After doing undergraduate work in journalism and mass communication, during her M.A., Elizabeth Macias-Gutiérrez focused on the semiotics of culture, language and visual arts to explore the relationship between multimodality and intercultural understanding. Interested in the body as discourse, she analyzed the cultural, historical and socio-political meanings expressed in dance across different cultures, conducting ethnographic research on postcolonial and gender politics and poetics of Argentine tango dancing in the UK.
In her doctoral studies, she further investigated communication through the body in the liveness of theatre and the Gesamtkunstwerk (the “total” art work), focusing on documentary theatre and studying the Theatre of the Oppressed, Theatre of Cruelty, physical theatre, dance theatre, and performance art— as subversive forms of communication and communing. She also developed the notion of (syn)aesthetic journalism as a form of multimodal and multi-sensorial form of telling alternatives narratives through total theatre.
Beyond the 5 W’s of news, Dr. Macias-Gutiérrez focuses on the unspeakable side of news content: trauma. The testimonial accounts she has encountered involve human rights violations, femicide, and ritual abuse. Beyond “giving a voice to the voiceless,” her approach emphasizes that the “voiceless” already have a voice but lack the agency and means to speak and be heard. She explores how artists and communicators can provide agency through personalized creative processes and platforms where disempowered voices can speak their own voice and tell the stories they want to tell.
Her doctoral thesis consists of theoretical and practice-based research that applies trauma-sensitive interviewing methodologies with aesthetic communication techniques —mainly estrangement, Magical Realism, synaesthesia, and the Gesamtkunstwerk— to facilitate performances for trauma survivors and bridge gaps with diverse audiences. A key aspect of this work is the multidisciplinary involvement of artists in film and video making, digital design, photography, sound design, music, installation art, lighting design, scenography, physical theatre, and contemporary dance. Her work targets unconventional and site-specific spaces for an immersive and itinerant experimentation.
Dr. Macias-Gutiérrez has a range of varied work experiences including: Academic Coordinator of the US federal education program for minorities, Upward Bound, in Abilene, Texas; editor and translator for various organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-UN) and the Center for Research and Treatment of Autism in Torreón, Mexico; freelance director in performance spaces including Teatro Vascello in Rome; and collaborator of México Infórmate, a network of journalists, academics, and civil society representatives advocating towards an open government of transparency, accountability and access to information.
At JCU, Dr. Macias-Gutiérrez teaches Journalism Writing Across the Media and Introduction to News Reporting and Writing. She also serves as the Faculty Coordinator for the student-run newspaper The Matthew and as the Faculty Advisor of the Organization of Latin Americans Club (OLA).