Francesca Martínez

Francesca Martínez Tagliavia (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Ehess), Paris.). Under the direction of Prof. Yves Cohen, is completing her Ph.D. in visual culture studies at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Her interdisciplinary doctoral research is entitled « Doing Bodies with Images. Velina’s Charisma in Italian Politics (1989-2003) ». With this research, she seeks to give a new insight to the visual hegemony during Berlusconi’s regime, between culture and politics, through the figure of the Velina, young playmate of Italian television. In the first part, she retraces the origin of Berlusconian cultural and political hegemony, and she builds an iconology of the Velina’s body, understood as an erotic political ornament, within a pornographic visual regime. Subsequently, she shows the extension of the Velina’s domain in contemporary feminization of labour, in a post-feminist context. In the second part of the research, she analyzes the cultural industry of the Velina, between business and symbolic economy. She analyzes the actors’ speeches and « image acts » and discusses them within feminist theory. In the last part, she shows the extension and the limits of Berlusconi’s charisma, as an « extended » charisma, where the Velina plays a major role of diffusing erotic power. She proposes a new interpretation of Italian contemporary regime, as a charisma diffused through visuality.

As a Visiting Scholar at the Deparment of Media, Culture and Communication of New York University (fall 2015-spring 2016), her next major research project entitled « Image as Society. The birth of visuality in French social sciences (1890-1914) » stems from her interdisciplinary experience in academic research. Her hypothesis is that visual studies’ canonical distinction between picture and image was born at the threshold between nineteenth and twentieth century, at the origin of French social sciences. Gabriel Tarde (Laws of Imitation, 1890), Gustave Le Bon (The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, 1895) and Emile Durkheim (The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, 1912) have imagined society as image. Dislocating the modern individual into a collective subject has implied to produce an image of society. Given this epistemological movement, visuality emerged. Subsequently, the question of the image’s indexicality has been raised by Durkheim, and challenges today the issue of the image’s reality, between epistemology and politics. This research is likely to highlight the foundational relationship between visuality and society, that has until now never been seen.

Aside from her research activities, Francesca Martinez Tagliavia teaches Aesthetics at Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3, and co-coordinates the research program Philosophie politique et culture visuelle at iCAVS (Interdisciplinary Cluster for the Advancement of Visual Studies), Lille/France.