Dr Juan M Diaz Arevalo

BPhil, BA, MA, PhD

Department of Politics and International Relations

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Profile image for academic member of staff Juan Mario
Profile picture of Profile image for academic member of staff Juan Mario

Full contact details

Dr Juan M Diaz Arevalo
Department of Politics and International Relations
Modular Teaching Village
Northumberland Road
S10 1AJ

Juan Mario is an ECR who joined the Department of Politics and International Relations in January 2019. He completed a BPhil Philosophy and Letters and BA in Theology followed by an MA in Latin American Literature. He worked in the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (2002-2003) and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (2004-2009), Colombia, and moved to the UK in 2009 to undertake doctoral studies. He completed his PhD in the University of Roehampton, London, and subsequently held a post-doctoral role at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Sheffield University in 2018.

He has been working for the past three years on the Newton Fund-funded research project ‘Improbable Dialogues,’ which contributes towards dialogues and building local capacities in (post)accord Colombia. During that time, he has been leading on the fieldwork in Colombia (initially in person, and during the pandemic remotely), playing a key role in the community-level research and participatory activities, and facilitating the day-to-day relationships with both non-academic and academic partners. This has been particularly clear in the city of Buenaventura, where the project Improbable Dialogues contributed to developing a city-wide ‘Strategy for Peace and Co-existence’ that was subsequently formally adopted by the local administration. This work has received the ESRC ‘Outstanding Societal Impact’ award for 2021.

Research interests

Juan Mario has recognised expertise in Participatory Action Research (PAR) with communities affected by conflict. His research is located at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences and international relations, focusing on issues of peace and conflict and community-led development in Colombia and Latin America. His work on the Improbable Dialogues project made a significant contribution to the development and dissemination of participatory research methods. Drawing on this project, Juan Mario has established a network of academic and non-academic partners across Colombia’s south-western region to co-design and deliver a participatory programme of training in research and communication.


Journal articles


Funded research projects

Awarding body: HEIF Response Mode 2021/22

Title of Research: ‘Creating partnerships to support community-level peacebuilding and
development in Colombia’

Principal Investigator: Juan Mario Díaz

Co-Investigators: Simon Rushton and Henry Staples (Politics, University of Sheffield)

Duration: January/February 2022

Award: £10,000

Awarding body: 'Conflict Intersections' Global Partnership Development Awards, 2020.

Title of Research: ‘Realizing Territorial Peace: Creating Partnerships and Building
Capacities for Community-level Approaches to Development in Post-accord Colombia’

Principal Investigator: Juan Mario Díaz

Co-Investigators: Óscar Alfonso (Universidad Externado del Colombia), Ruth Blakeley,
Matthew Bishop (Politics, University of Sheffield), Jefferson Jaramillo (Universidad
Javeriana, Colombia), Melanie Lombard (USP, University of Sheffield), Simon Rushton
(Politics, University of Sheffield), Arlene Tickner (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia), Helen
Turton (Politics, University of Sheffield).

Duration: Project selected for funding but cancelled due to the UK’s ODA funding cuts.

Award: £200,000

Awarding body: HEIF Response Mode 2020/21

Title of Research: ‘Amplifying Indigenous Knowledge in Rural Colombia: How can
Participatory Research help to Build Resilience amongst the Coffee Producing Cooperative

Principal Investigator: Juan Mario Díaz

Co-Investigators: Matthew Bishop and Simon Rushton (Politics, University of Sheffield)

Duration: Jan-Jun 2021

Award: £7,500

Awarding Body: Newton RCUK-Colciencias Research Partnership

Title of Research: Improbable Dialogues: Participatory Research as a Strategy for Reconciliation

Principal Investigators: Simon Rushton (University of Sheffield) and Jefferson Jaramillo (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia)

Co-Investigators: Matthew Bishop, Juan Mario Díaz (Politics, UoS), Jackie Harrison (Journalism, UoS), Jaime Hernandez-Garcia (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia), Juan Miguel Kanai (Geography, UoS), Melanie Lombard (Urban Studies, UoS); Magda López (CINEP, Colombia), Stefanie Pukallus (Journalism, UoS), Jose Manuel Salamanca (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia), Helen Turton (Politics, UoS), Juan Pablo Vera (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia), Maria Zapata (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia).

Duration: initially 24 months (2018-2020) and extended up to Feb 2022

Total Award: £502,763 (£392,763 UK; £110,000 Colombia).


Teaching activities

Juan Mario has twenty years’ experience teaching in the adult community learning and higher education sectors in Colombia and the UK. He is currently dedicated exclusively to research.
He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.