Research

As a multidisciplinary scholar, I typically collaborate with researchers across the social sciences, environmental science, humanities, socio-legal studies, and STEM fields and with activists, practitioners, and other knowledge-bearers. I mostly use interpretive social science methods and qualitative analysis and am building my data analytics literacy. 

ACTIVE PROJECTS AND COLLABORATIONS


My current projects (detailed below) build on my dissertation work on the politics of mining knowledge and technology in Colombia and expand it in new directions. I have also researched energy justice, climate displacement, labor conflicts in the oil sector, and the environmental history of gold mining in South America, among other topics (see my publications). Click on each title for a brief description.

The Social Lifes of Toxics, Pollution, and Extractive Industries

Photo: Toxicologist collecting sediment samples from La Cianurada Brooke, Northeastern Antioquia, Colombia (2018).

Toxics and pollutants index broader socio-political, economic, and environmental transformations associated with the unfolding of racial capitalism, colonialism, and state power in various geographies and temporalities. I am interested in unearthing and disentangling various histories of injustice and resistance associated with toxicity in mining, urban, and agrarian landscapes in the Americas. 

In 2015, I started tracing the social life of mercury and gold mining in Colombia and wrote a dissertation that I am now turning into a book manuscript. In 2023, I co-authored an article on mercury and the itineraries of metallurgical knowledge in Peru and Colombia in the last three centuries.

Political Ecologies of Data

Photo: Virtual simulator of mining technologies in Antioquia's Clean Mining Technologies Regional Fair, Colombia (2019).

The 'datafication' of society and nature through the expansion of data capitalism is reshaping environmental education, research, and territorial claims. The rise of data analytics tools, the massive proliferation of environmental data, and AI-driven imaginaries of the future pose critical questions about power, social difference, and inequality in the 'datafied environment.'

As a Research Affiliate of UC Berkeley's Human Contexts and Ethics of Data Program, I advance teaching and research initiatives at the intersection of data science and critical environmental social science. I am developing a research project on the datafication of mining policy in Latin America, and a syllabus on the ethics and politics of environmental data aimed at STEM, data science, and environmental science majors. 

Global Governance of Toxics and Environmental Justice

Photo: plenary session at UN Minamata Convention COP2, Geneva (2018).

The international governance architecture on toxics and pollution has fallen short of its promises for a detoxified future but remains a crucial forum for environmental justice struggles. Thus, I conceive international detoxification efforts as both sites of critical inquiry and of political and legal dispute.

Since 2018, I have collaborated with environmental nonprofits, indigenous organizations, and human rights organizations to defend the rights of indigenous peoples and other marginalized populations exposed to mercury in the Colombian, Peruvian, and Brazilian Amazon through human rights advocacy and environmental litigation. Since 2017, I have participated as an observer in the UN Minamata Convention Conferences of the Parties, and have co-organized and participated in side events at various COPs as a presenter and discussant

Drawing on my insights from this work, I am preparing a manuscript on experts' and civil society engagement at the Minamata  Convention COPs between 2017 and 2022.

Knowledge, Justice, and Nature

Photo: Workshop to develop a lawsuit on mercury exposure in indigenous territory in Amazonas, Colombia (2018).

What knowledge about nature and environmental conflicts counts in court, education, and policy-making? Who gets to decide it, and what difference does it make for environmental justice claims? Since 2018, I have been studying the politics of environmental knowledge in Latin America and the US through various initiatives. 

In 2019, I co-authored the first installment of a comparative study of environmental knowledge in court disputes over energy and mining projects in Colombia and Chile. We are currently working on the second one. I am also editing a volume in Spanish on law, science, and technology in Latin America. Finally, I recently contributed to an edited volume on justice and equity in US  environmental studies education.

CONCLUDED PROJECTS (2008-2023)

Click here to see a summary of past and concluded projects.

Latin American and Caribbean Socionatures Working Group (2021-2023). While at UC Berkeley, I was a co-founder and active member of the Latin American and Caribbean Socionatures Working Group, an interdisciplinary community affiliated with Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies, bringing together graduate students who discuss scholarly work and organize events on nature, power, and society in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Human mobility, climate change, and disaster events (2013-2016). In my early career as a human rights and environmental lawyer and socio-legal researcher, I was a consultant for the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), I provided legal inputs for a policy and legal framework on the links between human mobility (e.g., forced displacement, relocation, confinement, and voluntary migration) and environmental change in Colombia. I wrote a book chapter, co-authored a book on the topic, and participated in various events and workshops with experts, scholars, government officers, and representatives of IOM and other international organizations.


Indigenous peoples and forced displacement (2009-2011). I followed and studied the Colombian Constitutional Court's progressive intervention in the situation of internally displaced indigenous people in Colombia. I wrote various reports, amicus briefs, and an undergraduate thesis on the topic. As part of my public interest law work as a last-year law student, I drafted memos for indigenous organizations and public hearings, including one presented before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.


Democracy, human rights, and courts in Colombia (2008-2012). At Dejusticia and the Center for Socio-Legal Research at the University of Los Andes, I participated in various research projects on courts, democracy, human rights, and the judicialization of politics in Colombia. I wrote two chapters in a book on the institutional and political effects of presidential reelection in Colombia and a journal paper on human rights approaches to indigenous leaders' protection. I drafted reports and amicus briefs on indigenous rights, women prisoners' rights, reparations for victims of the armed conflict, the human rights and environmental dimensions of drug policy, among other topics.