Our research

NZCLAS members have a wide range of research expertise. On this page you will find links to details about Centre research outputs.

Current research projects

The TPPA debate in Latin America and the Asia Pacific

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is an agreement among 12 countries designed to integrate the economies of the Americas with the Asia-Pacific region. Civil society organizations from the Pacific region formed a network of Indigenous communities, environmental, human rights, labor, and public health organizations and small agricultural producers to analyze the text of the TPP. Authors from Mexico, Chile, Peru, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand contributed to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada del Campo, Suplemento Number 100, January 16, 2016. These articles offer a Latin American perspective on the TPP. The US, Mexico and Canada have 20 years´ experience with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on which the TPP was based.

Globalising Aotearoa

A short film by Lillian Hanly discussing the nature of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and its impact on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the treaty representing the bicultural relationship in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Jane Kelsey, Hone Harawira, Marama Davidson and Margaret Mutu provide their insight on the matter and call on this generation to stand up for our rights.

Collaborative research groups

NZCLAS researchers are leading or collaborating in the following interest groups from Australasia, China and the Americas:

Southern Screenings Network

This entity comprises academics from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South East Asia and South Africa. It was launched in November 2013 at Curtin University, Australia. The first conference will be held at Monash University in November 2015.

The Australia/New Zealand Memory Research Network

This group has been collaborating since 2012. Its first symposium will be held on November 2015 in Wellington.

China-Australasia-Latin American Network

This group met for the first time in Ningbo, China in March 2015. A second conference to take place in Brazil is being planned for 2017.

Southern Cone Section, LASA Conference

This network within the most important association in the field of Latin American Studies gathers scholars specialised in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. As such, it organises specialised panels within this annual conferences, and collaborates with the group’s recently launched publication, Conversaciones del Cono Sur.

Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Cine y Comunicación Indígena (CLACPI)

The Latin American Coordinator for Indigenous Film and Communication is designed to strengthen and disseminate Indigenous communication that contributes to the recognition and full exercise of the rights of Indigenous peoples for their transformation and social, cultural and political participation in Abya Yala (the Americas). NZCLAS staff have supported Māori filmmakers in their participation in this festival and have invited Indigenous filmmakers to visit NZCLAS and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

The research of Professor Jose Colmeiro

One of the areas of expertise of Professor Colmeiro is Hispanic transatlantic studies. His research on this area has focused on the modern transatlantic connections between Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, on the narratives of travel, migration, and exile, and the intercultural production in the areas of music, cinema and literature from Spain and Latin America.

Of particular interest is his current research in remapping contemporary Galician cultural studies from a transatlantic perspective. Galicia, an autonomous community in northwest Spain, has historically had a very close connection with Latin America through its diaspora and the constant movement of persons, and exchanges of ideas and cultures, back and forth across the Atlantic, to the extent that it is the only nation in the world outside the region where Latin America is a fundamental component of its modern cultural identity.

The research of Dr Kathryn Lehman

Kathryn Lehman’s research focuses on media, citizenship and sovereignty under globalisation. Latin American nation-states have experienced profound democratic transformation in the last two decades, adopting unprecedented constitutional concepts such as the right of nature to regenerate. How do major transnational media tell this story? How have social movements used media to redefine citizenship, restructure the nation-state and expand participation in decision-making? Particularly important is how the media change when indigenous comunicadores define communication as a basic human right.

To understand these processes, she has participated in transnational knowledge exchange, accompanying Māori researchers to Abya Yala Latin America as translator and interpreter. Her research focuses on ways that media contribute to the cross-cultural understanding of sovereignty.

Her work in translation and interpretation include the following exchanges. Robert Pouwhare's magnificent documentary Tūhoe - A History of Resistance (2004), screened in Venezuela in 2007. Robert had shown his work at the Latin American Indigenous Film Festival (CLACPI) in Chile in 2004. The Festival's director and first Mapuche filmmaker, Jeannette Paillan, screened her documentary Wallmapu, the first history of Chile from an Indigenous perspective, during her visit to Aotearoa in 2004. The first Māori PhD in Law, Nin Tomas, visited the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Chile in 2006 to discuss Māori law, invited by Indigenous rights lawyer José Aylwin, and he gave a seminar on Indigenous rights in Auckland in 2009. The translation of Linda Tuhiwai Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies. Research and Indigenous Peoples (2012) into Spanish (forthcoming from Lom press in 2016), offers this seminal theoretical text to Spanish-speakers.

In Lehman's 30-minute documentary People's Media Venezuela (2012), comunicadores sociales from across Venezuela describe media projects that release the energy, creativity and humour of local communities constructing democracy amidst major social change. David Hernández Palmar (Wayuu) visited Aotearoa in 2011 to share his knowledge with us, and her publication on 'The Right to Information: Indigenous Media and the Bolivarian Revolution' explains the contributions Indigenous communities are making to democratising their society.

The research of Associate Professor Walescka Pino-Ojeda

Walescka Pino-Ojeda's research is concerned with the ways in which the arts represent and contest hegemonic forms of power, an interest that is a direct result of her participation in the cultural activism occurring under the authoritarian regime of 1980s Chile. Her PhD studies were as such dedicated to studying female writing in Latin America (Mexico, Puerto Rico and Chile), with particular focus on the ways this literature dealt with other spheres of identity, such as class and ethnicity. This research was later expanded in the volume Sobre castas y puentes: conversaciones con Elena Poniatowska, Rosario Ferré y Diamela Elti (2000).

It is precisely through the study of female writing that she entered into the field of subaltern and cultural studies in order to scrutinise processes of identity formation and social change in the aftermath of the prolonged and painful historic-political experiences of Latin America from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Following these parameters, she has published on music, photography, film and queer writing in Latin America.

While developing this research, she discovered that there was another layer of discourse, not pertaining to the area of popular culture or identity politics, but rather deeply imbued by complex and intricate processes of memory. From the mid-2000s her research started to participate in the emerging field of memory and trauma studies in Latin America. Political violence in this region is the direct result of the imposition of neoliberalism since the 1970s. Consequently, studies in this field concentrating on Latin America have developed along particularly hybrid disciplinary lines, integrating economics, politics, history, aesthetics and social psychology. The volume Night and Fog: Neoliberalism, Memory and Trauma in Post-Authoritarian Chile (2011) is a direct outcome of this investigative interest.

As in the 1970s and 80s, current forms of civic activism in Latin America are resorting to the realm of culture to achieve their objectives. In this instance, however, it is not to avoid the repressive apparatuses of the dictatorial regimes, but as a medium from which to build new forms of collective agreements outside the market and hegemonic forms of politics. Pino-Ojeda's book in progress analyses the role that culture and civic activism are playing in overcoming the traumas of the past in order to consolidate ongoing processes of re-democratization.

Can these various forms of culture contribute to the betterment of our societies? She argues emphatically that they can.This can be seen again and again in Latin American experiences over the last 40 years - something that her research has been trying to capture and communicate.

The research of Dr Constanza Tolosa

The main focus of Constanza Tolosa's academic work is the learning and teaching of foreign languages. She is based in the Faculty of Education where she teaches courses that deal with second language acquisition and learning and approaches to language teaching in school settings across different programmes (BA, BEd, Grad Dip Teaching Secondary). At present she works collaboratively with academics in her native Colombia and supervises several students from Latin America.

Her research interests include teachers’ beliefs and practices, language learning and teaching, language teacher education, and the use of technologies in language teaching. She is the lead researcher in a project entitled 'Online peer tutoring in a foreign language'. This international project involves working collaboratively with two researchers from the Faculty as co-researchers in New Zealand and a research team in Colombia.