Skip to main content
Dr Joey Whitfield

Dr Joey Whitfield

Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies

School of Modern Languages

Available for postgraduate supervision


Most of my work is about the relationship between culture, crime and punishment. I have so far approached these issues through 20th and 21st century Latin American literature and film. My first book is a study of Latin American prison writing which compares texts written by 'political' and 'criminal' prisoners from Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Brazil. I am now working on a second book, on the cultural politics of the 'War on Drugs'.

With Lucy Bell I recently wrote a short film Writing from the Shadows (available on BBC iPlayer) based on an action research project we are doing on prisoner publishing. We also edited Unlocked, a collection of writing by men imprisoned in HMP Nottingham.

I am also interested in translation, particularly of non-traditional literatures such as prisoner writing, testimonial texts and creative writing by anarchists. My translation of José Luis Zárate's story 'Fences' was published in the anthology of Latin American speculative fiction, A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins / Una realidad más amplia: Historias desde la periferia bicultural ­­­– which was part of the Hugo nominated Mexicanx initiative.


I came to Cardiff in September 2017. Before moving to Wales I worked for three years at the University of Leeds, first as a Teaching Fellow in Latin American Studies and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. I wrote my PhD at the Centre of Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge.

I have spent time living in Peru and I studied for part of my undergraduate degree at the University of Havana.

Honours and awards

  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2015-2018)

Professional memberships

  • Latin American Studies Association
  • Society of Latin American Studies
  • Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Cuba Forum
  • Inside Out Network, UK

Academic positions

  • 2017-present: Research Fellow, Cardiff University
  • 2015-2017: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Leeds
  • 2014-2015: Teaching Fellow, University of Leeds

Speaking engagements

Since 2015


  • 'The Cultural Politics of the "War on Drugs" in Latin America: Prohibition and Beyond' (Invited Talk), Cardiff University
  • 'Carnivals of death: Mapa Teatro’s Los incontados’, American Comparative Literature Association, Utrecht
  • ‘The criminal is political: the politics of Brazilian drug gangs on film’, Latin American Studies Association, Lima
  • ‘Sobriety and intoxication in Borracho estaba, pero me acuerdo by Víctor Hugo Viscarra and Opio en las nubes by Rafael Chaparro Madiedo’, Society for Latin American Studies, Glasgow


  • ‘Crimes too big to solve: the war on drugs in Latin American fiction’, Captivating Criminality: Crime Fiction, Felony, Fear and Forensics, Bath Spa
  • ‘Natural highs: hallucinogens and the posthuman in El abrazo de la serpiente’, Eco- criticism in Times of Crisis: Nature, Capital and Culture in the Hispanic and Lusophone Worlds, Leeds
  • ‘What’s anarchic about anarchist writing? Some examples from Latin America’, Latin American Studies Association, New York


  • ‘Female masculinity vs the kyriarchy: cultural resistance to femicide’, Provocaciones, Trinity College, Cambridge
  • ‘“Mi ética es la estética”: Biófilo Panclasta and “anarchist” writing’, Society of Latin American Studies, Aberdeen

Committees and reviewing

I have reviewed articles for:

  • Bulletin of Hispanic Studies
  • Theoretical Criminology
  • Crime, Media, Culture
  • Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies
  • Modern Languages Review









I lead a research-led module called 'Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Latin America', I contribute to 'Culture, Protest and Dissent in the 1960s', transnational modules, to the MA in Global Culture as well as teaching translation into English. I have taught several Inside Out modules in HMP Cardiff and I am working for these to become fully accredited.

Most of my research uses literary and cultural studies to investigate questions around crime, justice and the state in 20th century and 21st century Latin America. My first book, Prison Writing of Latin America, is a comparative study of Latin American prison writing from Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Brazil.

My second major project was a Leverhulme funded study titled Beyond the Narcos: the cultural politics of the 'War on Drugs'. It looks at how different parts of the culture industry have represented this conflict in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Several articles based on this project have come out already and I am working on a monograph. I also co-edited a special edition of New Readings on Fictions of Organized Crime.

With Lucy Bell from the University of Surrey I am currently working on the AHRC funded project, Prisoner Publishing, which promotes cartonera publishing in prisons in Mexico and the UK. As part of this, and in response to the Covid 19, we have produced DVD based course Creative Writing for Prisoners.

I have also published articles on the Cuban involvement in the Angolan Civil War and in the field of theoretical criminology.


I welcome research students in any area of Latin American or Hispanic Cultural Studies, particularly those interested in pursuing research in the following areas:

  • prisons
  • crime
  • the 'War on Drugs'
  • cultural criminology
  • testimonial and other forms of non-canonical literature
  • non-state based forms of justice

Current supervision

Javier Cortés Ortuño

Javier Cortés Ortuño

Research student