Indigenous Studies

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Indigenous Peoples’ claims for retributive justice are leading to debates over restitution, and the legal, political and moral consequences of the acknowledgement of past wrongs. What are the ramifications of the right to self-determination for Indigenous Peoples in a contemporary world? Collective and individual identities and human rights may be in tension with each other. How are these to be reconciled? Gender and generational differentiations may underscore not just individual rifts, but potentially broader conflict within groups themselves. What could be a human rights response to such conflicts? Economic interests of majorities are put forward to justify displacement, dispossession and other violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. And the hunger for the world’s still unexplored natural resources that reside on Indigenous Peoples’ lands motivates major decisions of governments and the private sector, with unclear commitment to benefit sharing and even the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.  How are conflicting claims and rights between Indigenous Peoples and the dominant society to be resolved? What should be the role of the state in these conflicts? Is the dichotomy between western knowledge and indigenous knowledge a true dichotomy? Can one think “scientifically” and yet be open to an indigenous worldview? Does the adoption of Western epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologies really entail the wholesale rejection of their indigenous counterparts and vice-versa? What is the role of expressive culture and aesthetics in these inquiries? How do they reveal and help us think through indigenous sovereignty or its pursuit, indigenous epistemologies, inter- and intra-community conflict over definitions of identity, social roles, relationships to the physical world and political organization and action?

The University Seminar on Indigenous Studies at Columbia provides the opportunity for sharing research on these many critical issues, which are challenging and unsettling scholars, researchers, and practitioners in and around this field. Discussions revolve around contentious and emerging issues in the field of indigenous studies and research and contribute to the advancement of the field.

Professor Pamela Calla

Professor Elsa Stamatopoulou

Amanda Earl

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.




10/02/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
'H is for Human Right': An exploration of literacy as a key contributor to Indigenous self-determination
Melissa Derby, University of Canteburry

Respondent: Amanda Earl, Columbia University

11/07/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Indigenous Biocultural Rights and the Issue of Misappropriation: Lessons from Patent Landscaping and Customary Law
Daniel Robinson, University of New South Wales (Australia)

Respondent: Jane Anderson, New York University

12/04/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Ome Yasuni: Oil, Contact and Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
Judith Kimerling, Queens College, CUNY

02/05/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawai’i Statehood
Dean Itsuji Saranillio, New York University

Respondent: Kevin Fellezs, Columbia University

03/07/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Visiting Old Ladies: Reclaiming Knowledge And Relatives in Museum Collections
Sherry Farrell Racette, University of Manitoba

04/02/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM