Author & Teacher


Humans and

monarch butterflies

across North America



I am a Mexican scholar. I migrated to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto, with a collaborative degree at the School of Environment. After graduation in 2019, I was hosted by the Department of Geography and Planning of the University of Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow and in July 2020, I started a position as an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.    


I decided to follow the migrant monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) at critical knots of its migratory path across Canada, the United States, and Mexico to develop a form of thinking with and through the metamorphic and migratory monarch butterfly. This approach allows me to practice anthropology as a path to make more discerning critiques of North America, such as the existing racialized and border-centric political economy: a policy that has led to a butterfly without habitat and humans without secure access to their ancestral land. 


In simpler words: I am interested in enhancing an anthropology that thinks with the non-human to achieve eco-social justice.

Columba Gonzalez-Duarte PhD.

"Enhancing an anthropology that thinks with the non-human to achieve eco-social justice."

developed  by

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is the best known and most cared-for insect in North America. For millennia, monarchs have inhabited and moved between what are now the sovereign territories of three different nations, performing a 4000-km migratory loop that links distinct habitats.


The monarch butterfly faces threats to its survival all along the migratory path. These threats have deepened since the signing of NAFTA due to the agreement's role in facilitating the expansion of herbicides that are toxic to milkweed, a plant crucial to monarchs, but also profoundly problematic as an agro-business model for humans.


Convergent Migrations is an ethnographic multi-sited research project that follows humans and nonhumans' mobilities across the rough pathway through which the migrant monarch lives and dies. It explores these entangled trajectories and how they speak to an eco-social crisis in North America that is particularly visible at the sites of study.


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