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Jakob Turner

Research Interests:

- 20/21st Century Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies

- Colonialism

- Film Studies

- Religious Studies



Ph.D in Hispanic Studies, University of Kentucky (Expected Spring 2023)

M.A. in Hispanic Studies, University of Kentucky, 2020

B.A. in Spanish Education, Campbellsville University, 2017



Forum on Conquest: Past-Present Cultural Politics of Coloniality in Latin American Cinema:

My dissertation, “Forum on Conquest: Past-Present Cultural Politics of Coloniality in Latin American Cinema,” analyzes the representation of Spanish Conquest in film as a critical commentary on the cultural present. Chapter 1, “Directorial Discord: The Cultural Politics of Representation in Apocalypto (USA/Mexico/UK, 2006) and Retorno a Aztlán (Return to Aztlán, Mexico, 1991)" focuses on how these films represent the (im)possibility of Indigenous heroic protagonism and futurity in the origins of Conquest. Apocalypto presents a Eurocentric vision of Indigenous defeat in which the Spaniards prevail because of an implicit Indigenous cultural inferiority, a vision that is contested by an Indigenous-inspired vision of cultural survival in Retorno a Aztlán, whose title indicates the film’s central argument: that this mythical Indigenous homeland was never fully vanquished by the Spanish, and that a moral—if not physical—return is still possible. Chapter 2, “Reinterpreting the Conquest: Resistance as an Ideological Weapon to Preserve Identity in Salvador Carrasco’s La otra conquista (The Other Conquest; Mexico, 1998), Gabriel Retes’s Nuevo Mundo (The New World; Mexico, 1978), and Roland Joffé’s The Mission (USA/Paraguay, 1986),” posits that the Conquest myth of absolute Indigenous religious conversion to Catholicism is problematized via ambivalent spiritual relationships between Spanish priests and their Indigenous converts. These films suggest that the converts never fully converted; rather, they harnessed the power of European iconography as a vehicle for the preservation of Pre-Colombian spirituality. Chapter 3, “Capital and the Narrative of Self-Preservation,” analyzes the representation of transnational capital on the global stage in Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos (Mexico, 1993), Fia-Stina Sandlund and Alejo Moguillansky’s El escarabajo de oro (The Gold Bug; Sweden/Argentina, 2014), and Icíar Bollaín’s También la lluvia (Even the Rain; Spain/Bolivia, 2010), where a colonial past is tied to the contemporary contest for control over Latin American resources. The result of who exercises control over local and national capital becomes a thought field on Latin American sovereignty, with themes of autonomy, self-determination, and freedom being played out through film to judge the impending neoliberalization that has swallowed domestic resources in the service of global interests. In light of the public protests that have destroyed Conquest monuments in the United States, Latin America, and Europe over the past year, I offer my study of these films as a way of understanding the contestatory logic of this movement.

Conference Talks:

"Project based activies: Scaffolding student autonomy in the classroom." Kentucky World Language Association. Presentation with Ruth Brown and Marlee Northcutt. Lexington, KY. September 2022.

“Metáfora y conflicto: la ideologización de la ayuda humanitaria como legitimidad política durante la crisis fronteriza venezolana-colombiana.” Southeast Coastal Conference on Languages & Literatures. Savannah, GA. Virtual. September 2021. 

"Directorial Discord: The Cultural Politics of Representation in Apocalypto and Retorno a Aztlán."  Panel: "Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous Imaginaries in Movement". Latin America Studies Association Conference. Virtual. May 2021. 

"Othering the 'Conquest': Conversing the Myth of Aztec Spiritual Anomie into an Ideological Weapon in La otra conquista."  Panel: "Negotiating Bounderies of Belonging, from Industry to Nation". Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference. Chicago, Illinois. Virtual. March 2021

“Fifty Shades of Gris: Latin American Sovereignty Versus (Post)Colonial Neoliberal Vampirism in Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos.” Panel: “Decolonial Epistemic Resistances and (Trans)local Practices.” American Comparative Literature Association. Chicago, IL. March 2020 (accepted; conference canceled due to pandemic).


Courses Taught:

SPA 332 - Spanish and Latin American Business Environment 

SPA 323 - Introduction to Spanish Translation (Spring 2023)

SPA 302 - Spanish for Business Professionals

SPA 211 - Intermediate Spanish Conversation

SPA 203 - High Intermediate Spanish (Course leader, Fall 2021, Co-leader Fall 2022)

SPA 202 - Intermediate Spanish II (Course leader, Spring 2021)

SPA 201 - Intermediate Spanish I (Course leader, Fall 2022)

SPA 103 - High Beginner Spanish (Course leader, Spring 2022)

SPA 102 - Elementary Spanish II

SPA 101- Elementary Spanish I



President of Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish National Collegiate Honor Society), University of Kentucky, 2022-2023

Vice President of Sigma Delta Pi, University of Kentucky, 2020-2021, 2021-2022

Secretary of Sigma Delta Pi, University of Kentucky, 2019-2020

Panel Moderator, Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, 2022

La Mesa del Espanol Undergraduate Tutoring, 2017-present