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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 acknowledgment 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 the 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 Elizabeth Hutchinson

Romina Quezada Morales

All seminars will continue to meet virtually through Fall 2021. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

10/05/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Manuela Picq, Amherst College and Universidad San Francisco (Ecuador)

10/12/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Panel: The Role of Courts in Defending Indigenous Peoples' Rights
Manaka Infante Suruta, Open Society Foundation (Colombia)

Steven Donziger, Attorney

Carla Fredericks, The Christensen Fund

Notes: Co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University
11/11/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Earth Politics in Bolivia
Waskar T. Ari-Chachaki, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2:00 PM
Panel: Indigenous People's contributions to Chile's Constituent Process

Notes: Time TBD.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.