Andrea's research is devoted to co-creating knowledge to address the issues affecting Ashéninka and Yine-Yami indigenous realities in the Peruvian Amazon. A descendant of the Quechua indigenous group in the region, Andrea listens to local stories and visions of the past, present, and the future to develop protocols, methodologies, and policies embedded in indigenous perspectives.

Drs. Robert Kozak and John Innes

Research Description

My collaborative research with indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon has three purposes: (1) responding to the social and environmental disruption afflicting Peruvian society with recommendations elaborated by the indigenous peoples themselves as principal and historically affected by this disruption, (2) making visible and available in an adequate format indigenous peoples' voices and suggestions for the drafting of public policies that affect their realities (3) mobilizing the co-created knowledge and make it accessible to indigenous peoples in their own languages and deliver it according to procedures appropriate to the indigenous communities.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

For me, it means service to the public: to the people. A public scholar is a critical investigator that researches in what people envision for their future, and addresses with the research current issues that affect our societies that exist in a broader context and space: our planet (which is full of other beings and elements with whom we constantly interact, affect, and are affected). For that research to be congruent with people’s visions for the future, and to build healthy societies, it is important to develop collaborative research.  The definition of the questions that will guide the research, the methodology, and the methods are collaboratively designed and the research is collaboratively conducted. Therefore, the control of the process is shared with collaborators and there is constant feedback from them.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

It is not easy to find funding for pre-fieldwork and knowledge mobilization activities. I'm able to re-imagine the project we are collaboratively designing to make it more responsive to communities' requirements. With this initiative we can have a truly bottom-up and culturally-sensitive project where communities themselves are the ones who prioritize the research theme and collaboratively conduct the whole study. 

I re-imagine the experience of a doctoral education in an environment that is more academically, morally, emotionally, and spiritually supportive of the type of work we want to do. I believe that research is not value-free so I re-imagine a more respectful, meaningful, critical, holistic, and consistent research necessary to build healthier societies that take into account our histories, analyze the present, and work toward a more fair future for humans and non-humans living in this planet. I’m immensely exited to start this adventure together.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

I see the experience and knowledge earned during the PhD as the beginning of a public service career. I see myself working for a government, research institution, civil society organization, or working for a conscientious and responsible business that focuses on service to the people. I envision collaboratively developing and conducting work that is culturally sensitive and respectful to the historically marginalized societies.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

We work collaboratively with indigenous peoples from the Amazon. Although one of the great legacies of colonization in Peru is discrimination, 40% of the Peruvian population recognize themselves as indigenous. Although indigenous peoples represent a large percentage of Peru's population, their influence on policy is limited. There are several as-yet unaddressed rights claims by the more than sixty different indigenous groups. Thus, the research we do with indigenous peoples in the Amazon attempts to remove the barriers to their voices, perspectives, worldviews, and values being hear and to influence policy from the bottom-up. For that purpose we also work with their institutions (indigenous federations) at the local and regional level, for them to elevate the research findings and influence policy making processes. I believe that research that is for the public good always should include aspects of knowledge-mobilization as key component in the design. 

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

With the help of western and indigenous science we want to bring to the decision-making table the indigenous knowledge, methodologies, and values that could help address current and future issues afflicting Peru. Because of the lack of congruent national public policies, Peru has been hit by violent conflicts that are the result of implementing a type of development that is opposed to what indigenous people's desire for their futures. 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have witnessed that when public, private, and academic actors have pursued work with indigenous peoples, they (often) put forward agendas that are distinctly different from that of the indigenous peoples (in terms of their values, methodologies, desires and visions for their futures). Dr. Kozak, Dr. Innes, the indigenous peoples with whom we are working, and I are prioritizing the communities' agendas. I’m interested in pursuing research that is truly in the indigenous people’s interest.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

I was interested in my supervisors’ line of research.


I re-imagine the experience of a doctoral education in an environment that is more academically, morally, emotionally, and spiritually supportive of the type of work we want to do.