NZ and Mexican academics discuss migration, mining, music and more


Scholar from Massey University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico met online for the first International Colloquium of Mexican and New Zealand Studies.



Some of the colloquium participants




The impact of COVID-19 on migration was among hot topics on the agenda at the first-ever International Colloquium of Mexican and New Zealand Studies.

Scholars from both institutions took part in an online academic exchange last week (March 17 and 18), focused on the theme of Transpacific encounters between the past and the multipolar world

Co-organised by Massey University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the online event was coordinated by Dr Celina Bortolotto and Associate Professor Leonel Alvarado, from Massey’s Spanish language programme.

Participants explored how both countries and cultures have approached a wide range of issues, including disaster management, the impact of mining on communities, women in leadership, the relationship between indigenous philosophy and social justice, and indigenous art, music and literary studies. 

“We don’t see the Pacific as a barrier but as a bridge,” says Associate Professor Kerry Taylor, Head of the School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication. 

“This is the first fruit of our work with UNAM, after an interruption by COVID-19, and it was part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ internationalisation strategy,” he says. “Over the past five years the college has been very active in promoting academic exchanges with top Latin American universities.”

“This colloquium has been a dream come true,” says Professor Alicia Girón, from UNAM. “There is so much we have learnt from each other, and we’re very interested in continuing with this fruitful exchange.”

In her keynote presentation, Professor Cynthia White, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, shared her research on emotions in second language learning, offering key insights into the conditions necessary to engage in fruitful learning and dialogue. 

Panellists from across Massey’s humanities and social sciences, creative arts, sciences and business disciplines included Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley; Professors Glenn Banks and Mark Bebbington; Associate Professors Krushil Watene, Warren Maxwell, Philip Steer and Leonel Alvarado; and Dr Farah Palmer.

Andrew Townend, Deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy in Mexico, and Alfredo Pérez Bravo, Mexican Ambassador to New Zealand noted the significance and growth of the New Zealand-Mexican trading relationship. Both praised Massey’s dynamism in promoting New Zealand education in the region.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences also has teaching and research, and student and staff exchanges with universities in Brazil and Colombia through its Spanish and Portuguese language, linguistics, Māori studies and development studies programmes. 

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