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Dr Ana Laura Zavala Guillen


Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

I am a Latin-American historical geographer researching in and with Afro-descendant communities about their geographies of resistance in Latin America and the Caribbean.

I work with Maroon-descendant communities —the descendants of fugitives from slavery— to critically understand the contested production of their territories as resistance, their social movements and transnational activist networks, feminist practices of territorial care and intimacy, and the Black epistemologies on which they are all founded. This research has been developed during my PhD and ESRC postdoctoral fellowship.

Furthermore, I am passionate about decolonial and participatory methodologies in historical geography, facilitating community analysis of colonial and postcolonial records to produce Black cartography based on oral history, knowledges, and emotions. I implement this original methodology in my current research, awarded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which expands debates about race, Black mobilities, and regime violence during slavery and the last military dictatorship in Uruguay.

I am also the co-founder of the Network of Women Doing Fieldwork, which now has more than 200 members and provides a space for building capacity and advocating for safety and well-being in data collection from a gender perspective. In this Network, I have guided discussions about embodiment, emotions, parenthood, and gender-based violence in the field. Our work has impacted university policies and health and safety protocols whilst creating tools for researchers, such as a public Zotero database of literature on gender and data collection. The Network has also been a space for me to mentor early-career researchers, referred to me by word of mouth or institutions due to my extensive fieldwork experience in North Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

About my formal education, I hold a doctorate in human geography from the University of Sheffield funded by the University Prize Scholarship, a MA in Conflict Resolution from Bradford University sponsored by the Rotary Peace Fellowship, a MA in Fundamental Rights from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid funded by the Fundación Carolina, and Bachelor of Laws from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata from my home country, Argentina.

Finally, I have extensive practice as a human rights lawyer and expert in transitional justice. In this role, I investigated and prosecuted gross human rights violations in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Spain, and Western Sahara. I am frequently a consultant for grass-root organisations as well as international ones.

Ana Laura Zavala Guillen

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Academic Partnerships to Confront Gender-Based Violence in the Field, Zavala Guillen, A., Pineda, I. 5 Apr 2023
  • Feeling/thinking the archive: Participatory mapping Marronage, Zavala Guillen, A. 1 Sep 2023, In: Area
  • Women in the Geographies of Marronage - Territorial Intimacy as a Freedom Strategy: The Case of María de Los Santos and Her Bonga, Zavala Guillen, A. 1 Jul 2023, In: Fronteras de la Historia
  • Maroon Socioterritorial Movements, Zavala Guillen, A. 19 May 2022, In: Annals of the American Association of Geographers
  • Afro-Latin American geographies of in-betweenness: Colonial marronage in Colombia, Zavala Guillen, A. 3 Mar 2020, In: Journal of Historical Geography

  • Law MA
  • Geography PhD
  • Other Social Studies MA
  • Law BA (Hons)

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