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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.

Pamela Calla

Elizabeth Hutchinson

Sara Pan Algarra

Meeting Schedule

09/18/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Roundtable Dialogue - The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities: Indigenous Knowledge and Proposals as a Response to the Climate, Humanitarian, and Environmental Crisis
Multiple speakers (see abstract link),


Speakers: Juan Carlos Jintiach, Srio of AGTC, and Nina Kantcheva, UNDP; Balkissou Buba, Vice National Coordinator of the Network for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC) (Congo Basin); Cristiane Pankararú, Representative of APIB (Brazil); Gustavo Sánchez, President of Red MOCAF (Mexico); Giuseppe Villalaz, Representative of the Congress of the Comarca Guna Yala (Panama)

Respondent: Elsa Stamatopoulou, Columbia University

Respondent: Raúl Hinojosa, Center of Chicano Studies, UCLA

09/21/2023 Faculty House
7:15 PM
Joint meeting with (515) An Illegible Relation?: Black/Indigenous Being and a Study of Hemispheric Racializations
Ashley Ngozi Agbasoga, Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University


Abstract: Discourses on racialization throughout the Americas are often described in opposition to each other: U.S. racial understandings are often understood into the Black/white binary; in comparison, Latin American racial formations are placed into a spectrum of racial identifications. However, this configuration crumbles through conversations on lived experience, embodiment, and crossings across spatiotemporal terrain. Utilizing ethnographic and archival work, I ask: How do Black/Indigenous understandings of relation interrupt not only the (re)production of dichotomous spatial-racial logics but also present us with an alternative way of understanding race throughout the hemisphere?

10/19/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:00 PM
Education Policy Research By, For, and With Indigenous Peoples in Canada, Mexico, and the United States
Michelle Pidgeon,

Regina Cortina,

Discussant: Amanda Earl,

11/16/2023 Institute of Latin American Studies, International Affairs Building, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Collective Rights and Human Rights Education: Lessons from the Indigenous Navigator
Romina Quezada Morales,

Discussant: Felisa Tibbitts,