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We’re delighted to feature Dr Marcela Palomino-Schalscha as part of a new series on academics from New Zealand universities and how they apply their research in the Latin American and global contexts.

Given her position as Lecturer in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, her active role as a community leader, and her busy home life with partner Cristian and their two daughters, Marcela Palomino-Schalscha keeps herself quite busy.

Marcela was born in Chile, where she worked for years in development and on environmental issues for NGOs and government agencies. One of Marcela's key interests is exploring how indigenous knowledge challenges modern/Western knowledge, which can have significant impacts on everything from economic development to cross-cultural relations. Her experience and expertise in this area made her a logical choice to serve as an editor for the Routledge Handbook of Latin American Development (2018). The Handbook is a new disruptive approach to an academic textbook, featuring chapters that the harms and suffering caused by various oppressive forces, as well as the creative and often revolutionary ways in which ordinary Latin Americans resist, fight back, and work to construct development defined broadly as the struggle for a better and more dignified life.

Marcela has also led a new mural project as part of the Latin Collective. The mural in Newtown brings to life the stories of the Latin American community who have made Wellington their home. Prominent Chilean artist Alfonso Ruíz Pajarito, from the well-known muralist collective in Chile Brigada Ramón Parra, led the design and painting of the mural with members of the community.

“We knew Alfonso would represent our stories in a participatory and inclusive manner, and that his art style would help connect our mural with the tradition and aesthetics of muralism in Latin America, sharing our experiences here in New Zealand while connecting back to Latin America” Marcela Palomino-Schalscha

If you want to visit the mural, it is located beside the Wellington City Mission in Newtown. The Latin Collective is now considering a new digital and film initiative about the mural to support the public’s learning about Latin America and Latin Americans in Wellington.

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