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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity
Rafael Barrio de Mendoza Zevallos AFSEE

Rafael Barrio de Mendoza Zevallos

PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

Rafael is a Peruvian social scientist interested in the multiple connections between environmental regimes, technological transitions, and the formation of public truth. He is currently a PhD Student in the Sociology Department at the University of Cambridge. His work focuses on the emergence of experimental evidentiary practices in the context of environmental deterioration. He is also active in advancing a critical approach to the political economy of the energy transition, the digital possibilities for progressive politics, and informational commons.

Previously, Rafael worked as a Global Economic Governance Officer for the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and a Project Coordinator for Propuesta Ciudadana in Peru, a coalition of ten NGOs that has been pivotal in advancing public accountability and tackling informational inequalities. This project sought to foster citizen participation and public accountability after the 2017 El Niño floods in northern Peru. 

Prior to his work at Propuesta Ciudadana, Rafael worked for nine years as an assistant researcher at the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), a leading think-tank in Peru. He conducted innovative research on indigenous peoples’ prior consultation procedures, extractive industries, climate change, social movements and informal economies. A key focus of his research was the many ways that intersectional forces create social inequalities, particularly those that impose informational and technical cultures on the development of infrastructures.

Rafael has combined policy-making, activism, and academic research from an early career stage. He has received the Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarship of the University of Cambridge, the Atkinson and Hobshouse Memorial awards for best overall performance with Distinction from the London School of Economics, and grants from the Consortium of Economic and Social Research (CIES), the Permanent Seminar on Agrarian Research (SEPIA), the Think Tank Initiative of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Data & Society Institute

Rafael holds an MSc in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BSc in Anthropology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

I have seen change happen from the maturation of convictions, and the actions of collectives that have come to see their unequal conditions not as a given, but as the arbitrary constructs of unfair social orderings. I have seen how an Andean peasant community can challenge what counts as ‘technical’ when environmental disruption caused by a mining project has been deemed technically ‘acceptable’, or when small groups of activists come together to hold a large-scale public investment to account, by the sheer force of their claims. Change is the effect of a right being performed.

Rafael Barrio de Mendoza Zevallos


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