In 2013, I graduated from University College Cork with a BA in Hispanic Studies and Psychology. Influenced by my exposure to Latin American political and cultural studies as an undergraduate student, I continued in UCC with a Master of Research in Hispanic Studies (MRes) with the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies under the supervision of Professor Nuala Finnegan. This year-long research degree (2013-2014) afforded me the opportunity to explore my interest in revolutionary politics in 21st century Latin America, namely focusing on the political development and social dynamics of the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico with a thesis entitled Understanding Zapatista Autonomy: An Analysis of Healthcare and Education. Upon completion of my masters degree, in 2015 I enrolled in a PhD programme with the department with the aim of broadening my treatment of indigenous political activism in Latin America with a comparative study between Mexico and Bolivia. I am currently in the third and final year of my PhD which is due for completion in 2018.

I have a broad range of research interests, some of which are explored in my current project, which include Latin American politics, social movements and civic action in the Americas, political theory, human rights, indigenous politics and customary law and North-South relations in the Americas. I remain active in research dissemination both at home and abroad having organised and attended workshops, symposiums and conferences and I am also a department tutor, having taught Spanish language tutorials and modules on Latin American politics, culture and human rights. When I am not studying I enjoy to read and I have also been actively involved in broadcasting, co-presenting a current affairs show on local radio in UCC.

PhD Project Description

My PhD is provisionally entitled A study of ethnopolitics in Latin America: A Comparative Analysis between Mexico and Bolivia. Using specific case studies drawn from each country, this thesis contributes to an ongoing conversation in scholarship which seeks to question and interrogate the various ways in which indigenous people in Latin America are engaging in politics. Central to the overall analysis is the indigenous claim to ancestral landscape and territorial autonomy which features heavily in their politics. First, the Zapatista grassroots social justice movement is an anti-state, autonomous indigenous organisation which focuses on promoting political and cultural strands of indigeneity in Mexico, placing their demand for territoriality at the fore of their rights-based agenda. This brings them into direct conflict with the state's economic liberalism. Second, the 2011 TIPNIS dispute in Bolivia between Evo Morales and indigenous communities brought to the surface unresolved historic tensions around territorial development in the country. It highlights the challenges confronting Morales, an indigenous president, in his effort to build neoextractive industries to sustain an economy while protecting indigenous land rights. This PhD uses a variety of different theories at various stages, including decolonialty, territorial rights theory and utopian studies, to help bring a shaper focus and more dynamic analysis to the study of indigenous politics in the region and to help shed greater light on the impact this style of poltics is having in the mainstream across Latin America.

Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

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