Indigenous Studies

  • Founded
  • Seminar Number

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.




10/03/2017 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Screening of “War for Guam” by Frances Negrón-Muntaner, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker
Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Columbia University

Notes: For more information and a trailer of the film, please visit
11/01/2017 420 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Indigenous peoples and the new globalization: Transnational development and the ruthless elimination of indigenous communities in present day Bolivia
Ricardo Calla Ortega, Professor and Anthropologist, Former Minister of Indigenous and Native Peoples Affairs in Bolivia

11/08/2017 420 Hamilton Hall, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Impact of extractive industries and projects on the lives of women from the Northern Extractive Region of Guatemala: Risks for social researchers
Rosa Eudelia Macz, Maya Q'eqchi' lawyer from Guatemala, Asociación para el Avance de las Ciencias Sociales en Guatemala, AVANCSO

02/06/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Freedoms: Implementing the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights
Kristen Carpenter, University of Colorado and the United Nations

04/03/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Aging, Precarity and the Settler State: The Struggle for Indigenous Elsewhere
Sandy Grande, Connecticut College

Respondent: Kevin Bruyneel, Babson College

05/01/2018 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Reflections on Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention
Jaskiran Dhillon, The New School

Respondent: Manu Vimalassery, Barnard College, Columbia University