Ways of knowing, feeling, and being indigenous within the United Nations system: Indigenous Peruvian Participation

Thursday, February 23 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM
The University Seminar on Indigenous Studies invites you to
Title of the Presentation: Ways of knowing, feeling, and being indigenous within the United Nations system: Indigenous Peruvian Participation
Speaker’s Name: Urpi Saco
Anthropologist, and Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Discussant: Elsa Stamatopoulou
Director, Indigenous Peoples' Rights Program, ISHR, Columbia University
Reply Request: Please RSVP by Sunday, February 19 emailing Sara Pan (smp2253@tc.columbia.edu
Abstract: This talk is motivated and inspired by multiple encounters, embodied resistances, and situated experiences. I would like to share some reflections on the indigenous peoples' participation within specific United Nations mechanisms. These ongoing insights are being crafted from my doctoral research on how indigenous participation becomes concrete and can advance indigenous peoples' rights within the United Nations system and in their territories. Throughout my research, I have tried to grasp personal and intimate past/current/future indigenous resistances. These exist in indigenous peoples' bodies and territories and in created spaces for the pursuit of recognition of their human rights, knowledges, and justice. One of the many international platforms is the United Nations, particularly the mechanisms in which indigenous peoples actively participate. I concentrate my research on the Peruvian indigenous participation within a specific United Nations (UN) mechanism, the Indigenous Fellowship Programme. Concretely, on how their identities are co-constituted by their UN experiences and their everyday lives. I explore how they mobilize the UN indigenous peoples' rights discourses and mechanisms after participating in the UN realm.
More broadly, from my ethnographic encounters and conversations with self-identified indigenous persons, I would like to briefly discuss some reflections on the protocols and bureaucratic ways of doing of the United Nations, on the personal trajectories, emotions, epistemic resistances, and identity co-constitution processes that occur during the participation of self-identified indigenous persons in these UN spaces. These reflections allowed me to start understanding how indigenous delegates enact (un)expected ways of being indigenous; and how they embody, adjust, co-constitute, and expand ways of doing and being indigenous through their experiences in the international human rights milieu.
Speaker’s Bio: Urpi Saco is a Peruvian anthropologist and Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, New York, thanks to the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). Before starting her Ph.D., she worked as a public servant at the Ministry of Culture in Cusco, Peru, and as a researcher in the field of indigenous justice in Peru. Besides, she was a lecturer in the Anthropology Department at the Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco in Cusco, Peru. Her dissertation project investigates the Latin-American indigenous peoples’ participation within some specific United Nations Indigenous people’s mechanisms. She focuses on the Peruvian indigenous peoples’ participation. She holds a BA (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Perú) and an MA (Université de Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland), both in Anthropology.
Discussant's Bio: Elsa Stamatopoulou joined Columbia University in 2011 after a 31-year service at the United Nations (in Vienna, Geneva, and New York) with some 22 years dedicated to human rights, in addition to 8 years exclusively devoted to Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Indigenous issues were part of her portfolio since 1983 and she became the first Chief of the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2003. In 2011, she taught the first-ever course at Columbia on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the first course on cultural rights (2016) and is the first Director of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia. She is also co-founder and was co-chair of Columbia’s University Seminar on Indigenous Studies from its inception in 2014 to 2020. Her academic background is in law, international law, criminal justice, and political science (Athens Law School, Vienna University, Northeastern University, and Graduate Institute of International Studies at the University of Geneva). She has worked on international normative frameworks, institution-building, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other groups, women’s rights, cultural rights, development, private sector and inter-governmental cooperation. She has collaborated closely with non-governmental organizations in her native Greece and around the world and has received the Ingrid Washinawatok El Issa O’Peqtaw Metaehmoh-Flying Eagle Woman Peace, Justice and Sovereignty Award; the award of the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples; the Eleanor Roosevelt Award of the Human Rights Center and of Voices 21; the Innovation in Academia Award for Arts & Culture, 2016, by the University of Kent (UK); in 2010, the Museum “Tepee of the World” was given her name in the Republic of Sakha, Siberia, Russia. In 2016, she was featured as one of the UN’s 80 Leading Women from 1945-2016. She co-chairs the International Commission on the Chittagong Hill Tracts and is on the Board of the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).
Please note that dinner will be served at 6:00 PM at the Faculty House. As of January 2023, the University Seminars Office will resume collecting meal payments from Seminar/Workshop meeting guests dining at the Faculty House. If you want to attend the dinner, please bring a check to the dinner event. The price is $30 per dinner guest. The check should be made payable to "Columbia University," and the following should be written on the memo line: “[Indigenous Studies] Dinner Payment."
Accessibility Statement: Columbia University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. The University Seminars participants with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may contact the Office of Disability Services at 212.854.2388 or disability@columbia.edu. Disability accommodations, including sign-language interpreters, are available on request. Requests for accommodations must be made two weeks in advance. On campus, seminar participants with disabilities should alert a Public Safety Officer if they need assistance accessing campus.