Tracking butterflies: Dr. Columba Gonzalez-Duarte and her multi-species, multi-sited research
“There’s an aspect of social justice that I want to bring to MSVU and to my students and future research – something I call eco-social justice. How can we achieve justice for humans and non-humans?”
Pursuing a greater understanding of the relationship between monarch butterflies and the people and communities they interact with has carried Dr. Columba Gonzalez-Duarte far, connecting her roots in Mexico to her new home in Halifax where she is now an Assistant Professor with Mount Saint Vincent University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Through her research, Columba explores the monarch butterfly’s tri-national conservation dynamics, exploring connections between NAFTA’s agri-food industry, labour migration, and monarch decline. She has also worked with Indigenous communities that co-habit with the butterfly across Canada, the United States and Mexico, documenting their knowledge and ways of relating with the migratory insect. She says that this work is an example of how, beginning with her PhD, she started doing what she refers to as multi-sited and multi-species field work.
Since joining MSVU in spring 2020, Columba has been initiating her teaching practice while continuing work on her research project, Convergent Migrations, as well as finishing a book based on her doctoral research. She says the pandemic has not affected her ability to carry out her research or engage in teaching, but it has meant differences for both. Her instruction has been entirely online so far and – even though it focuses on collecting community-based data – so has her research.
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