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The Department of Modern Languages & Cultures has been home in the past to graduate students who have gone on to start their own academic careers beyond Liverpool. In this first of an occasional series, we meet Dr Malayna Raftopoulos.


Dr Raftopoulos undertaking fieldwork in Bolivia

Malayna enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool in 2003, reading International Development and Spanish; it was during her first degree that she became enchanted with Latin America. Malayna followed her BA with a MA in Latin American Studies, supported by a Masters fees grant from the University of Liverpool. This was the springboard for her ESRC scholarship to research a PhD in Latin American Studies, where she relished the the vibrant and multidisciplinary nature of the field.

As part of her doctoral thesis, Malayna undertook extensive research over 18 months in the Chachapoyan region of Peru, collaborating with the German Development Agency (GIZ) and the Regional Department of Foreign Trade and Tourism in Amazonas (DIRCETUR) on two projects: (i) rural community tourism development in Cocachimba and (ii) the promotion of sustainable tourism practices in Amazonas. On reflection, Malayna identifies the time she spent in Peru as particularly rewarding. 

I look back at my time at Liverpool with very fond memories and believe that the support I received from my supervisors and lecturers during my time there undoubtedly helped shape my future in academia – Malayna Raftopoulos

Dr Raftopoulos at work at Aalborg University

Dr Raftopoulos at work at Aalborg University, Denmark

In addition to the academic side of her studies, Malayna fondly recalls Friday evenings at the Cambridge pub with colleagues.  After completing her PhD, Malayna held post-doctoral positions at the Human Rights Consortium, University of London and at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London. She is now based at the Department of Culture and Global Studies at Aalborg University, Denmark, where she teaches Latin American Studies. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on sustainable development, social-environmental conflicts, environmental discourses and governance, climate change mitigation strategies (in particular REDD+) and indigenous land rights.