Published: 24 May 2016

PhD student wins prestigious Latin American research award

Blakemore prize - Ailsa Peate

PhD student Ailsa Peate has been awarded the prestigious Harold Blakemore prize by the UK association for the study of Latin America – the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS).

Ailsa, who studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, submitted an essay entitled ‘Travestido, transformado, definitivamente distinto?: Transgenericidad and Gender Trouble in Leonardo Padura’s Máscaras’ to win the prize. It explores the fiction of Cuban author Leonardo Padura, focussing on his novel Máscaras of 1995.

This prize is named after scholar Harold Blakemore (1930-1991) who played a key role in the foundation of SLAS in 1964 and throughout its early period. Since 1991, the prize has been awarded to the best essay submitted each year by a postgraduate student in Latin American Studies.

Alongside a prize of £600, Ailsa will also have her essay published in the Bulletin of Latin American Research.

Commenting on the award, Head of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, Professor Chris Harris, said “Ailsa is an outstanding postgraduate researcher, and we are all delighted to see her exceptional intellect and writing skills recognised nationally with the award of the Blakemore Prize.”

Considering the detective genre’s socio-cultural background, Ailsa’s essay analysed how Padura’s post-Soviet Cuban detective fiction transforms the genre, at once using and subverting U.S. tenets of noir, in order to transfigure archetypes of form and content. Her key findings were that the postmodern symptoms within the text, deviant from the archetypal crime genre, reinforce and inform notions of fluid and performative representations of bodies and sexualities.

Image above shows Ailsa being awarded the Harold Blakemore prize by SLAS President, Professor Jens Hentschke.

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