Dr Marcel Reyes-Cortez

Marcel Reyes-Cortez is a Visual Anthropologist and photographer living and working in London. 

In 1993 he graduated with a BA (Hons) in photography from the London College of Printing and in 1995 he gained an MA in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Marcel returned to academia and in 2006 he gained an MRes in Visual Anthropology. His doctoral research (2007-10) became the first to be awarded a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London in ‘Visual Anthropology’. Marcel’s doctoral programme developed the application and practice of photography as an academic research methodology and a social research tool. In his doctoral research project Marcel explored the spaces, sociocultural currents and contemporary ritual phenomenon of the dead in Mexico City and the social, cultural, economic and political life of its cemeteries, mourners, workers and the social phonomena of material objects and photographs dedicated to the dead.

Research Activities and Interests

Marcel is currently working on a project that explores further the emergence of the politics of the representation and fetishisation of dead persons plus the photographic portraits that represent them. His current project expands from ongoing research he is undertaking on the conceptualisation of the unknown dead, missing persons, and the human rights for the dead. Marcels’ project takes a closer look at the collective spaces and places were memory and culture is made and buried but also forgotten and ignored.

Marcel current book project is on the relationship between the agency of photographs and the sociomythic portrait. The research takes a closer look at the political, social and cultural economy, migration and agency of the dead and the objects and works of art that represent them. The research will expand further from work carried out on the photographic portraits of the dead in Mexico City and on the agency of performance of religious artifacts, works of art, iconology and the archive.

Marcel also set up Photography+(Con)Text and it aims to provide a platform of exchange, stimulating dialogue between social researchers and artists who engage with photography creatively and critically.

Photography+(Con)Text developed ‘Photography and Academic Research’, a series of interdisciplinary events serving as a platform to share experiences, practices and perspectives on the use, analysis and representation of photography and social research. The first international conference ‘Photography and Academic Research’ was hosted together with Dr Barbara Knorpp on September 2016 at the Institute of Archaeology (Heritage Studies), UCL, with the collaboration of Birkbeck’s Department of Politics and the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Marcel specialises in visual anthropology; photography; material and visual culture; memory; cemeteries; memorialisation; contemporary funerary rituals; mourning practices; Mexico.


Marcel Reyes - Cortez



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