Pablo Zavala's research centers on the fields of Mexican and Latin American literary, visual, and cultural studies, which he explores to further understand and deconstruct identity fictions in the cultural constellation of left-wing politics, State formation, and the printed press.
In both his scholarship and his teaching, he employs intermedial cultural representations that engage the ideological and biopolitical structures of subjectivity formation and the theoretical tools to approach them from a critical perspective. In his research and in relevant classrooms, he engages with ideas from the field of print studies and theories on “the people,” and challenges conventional interpretations of national traditions and literatures.
In his dissertation, "Forging a People: Visual Culture in the Illustrated Press of Post-Revolutionary Mexico" he analyzed how the concept of “a people” was (re)presented visually in early 20th century Mexican newspapers, periodicals, magazines, and leaflets. In this project, he argues that the illustrated newspapers, magazines, and booklets that circulated in the country during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) constructed a concept of “the people” that challenged the hegemonic formation of the State. He discusses the intersection between subjectivity, practice, and visual and written culture and engage with the theorizations on the matter by thinkers such as Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Rancière, and Georges Didi-Huberman. By examining cultural artifacts, including images, prints, photographs, and drawings printed in such publications as El Universal Ilustrado (1917-1940) and El Machete (1924-1938), he maintains that the image-makers produced competing versions of what constituted a Mexican citizen, raising contradictions and tensions within the processes of official nationalization. His study contributes to scholarship that has re-examined the formation of post-Revolutionary nationhood in the last few years, moving away from the focus on State formation, and addresses the horizontal and aesthetic dimensions of said construction by cultural producers from non-State actors and grassroots political sectors.
Pablo has published articles in Chasqui and Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas. He’s presented his work at LASA, MACHL, the Juan Bruce-Novoa Mexican Studies Conference (UC Irvine) and the Contemporary Mexican Literature Conference (UTEP). As a graduate student, he was a fellow of the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Program and completed a certificate in Latin American Studies. In 2014, he earned the Eva Sichel Memorial Essay Prize in the Romance Languages and Literatures department. He currently teaches classes in Spanish as well as on Latinx topics.