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Department of Geography


Geographies of indigenous citizenship in Latin America

This research project investigates the citizenship practices and everyday social interactions of Indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Peru. On the website, you will find information about our team, resources, and events in English and Spanish. The project contributes to understanding the spaces and social relations that make Indigenous peoples’ citizenship both formally and every day.


This project investigates the geographies of Indigenous citizenship in Ecuador and Peru. The project contributes to addressing problems of Indigenous exclusion and to our understanding of how ordinary citizenship experiences in local and public spaces shape the realisation of citizenship rights. The project seeks to contribute to debates around state-Indigenous relations, discrimination, and postcolonial citizenship.

Latin American countries offer opportunities to think about Indigenous citizenship and its geographies as the region has experienced important mobilization of Indigenous peoples around claims for citizenship as well as significant legislation to formalise Indigenous rights. However, longstanding exclusions in social practice and thinking mean that legal rights are unevenly and normatively interpreted, resulting in inequalities in Indigenous people’s everyday access to resources, voice and dignity. The project reflects on the numerous constraints to inclusive and decentred citizenship, and treats seriously the diverse practices, influences, innovations, and disappointments of Indigenous peoples’ pursuit of dignity, voice and self-determination as citizens.

Indigenous citizens

The nature of and meanings of gaps between formal and substantive citizenship, between de jure and de facto rights, are as yet only partially documented and understood in postcolonial countries. The project contributes to grounded and ethnographic accounts by researching the lived dimensions of citizenship among Indigenous people in two sites in Ecuador and Peru. In particular, we hope to work with communities in urban and rural areas in order to reflect the diverse experiences of citizenship across and within groups. This will allow us to provide insights into how the content and scope of citizenship can be transformed by Indigenous groups in nonstandard directions and how new visions and practices of citizenship are established in place and in practice. Case study sites will be chosen with the insights of Indigenous leaders, civil society organisations, and through conversations with residents.

The project is based in a collaborative qualitative research design. This experimental approach aims to negotiate project design, methodology and outputs with Indigenous communities and authorities to avoid extractive research, with the goal of re-balancing the unequal power relations in the production of geographical knowledge.


The multimethod study involves a UK team, an Ecuadorian and Peruvian Co-Investigator, and Latin American Indigenous researchers, to document experiences of Indigenous citizenship.


Principal Investigator

The Principal Investigator on this project is Professor Sarah Radcliffe.

Sarah Radcliffe

Sarah A Radcliffe

Sarah A Radcliffe is Professor of Latin American Geography at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow at Christ’s College Cambridge. Her research has primarily focused on social and territorial inequalities in Latin America. Currently, this encompasses research into intersectional dynamics of power, public policy and inequalities of gender and indigeneity; and contested cartographies and territories. In parallel, she has contributed to debates around decolonizing the discipline of geography and its teaching about the world. She has lectured at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and at the Institute of Developing Economies, Advanced School (IDEAS) in Tokyo, Japan.

Integral to her research practice has been a longstanding commitment to work in dialogue and collaboration with local interlocutors in Latin America, with a concern to consult with grassroots organisations and stakeholders before embarking on research projects. Read more: Gender, race-ethnicity, place and difference.

Podcast on ‘Decolonizing Development: Kichwa and Tsáchila women’s engagement with postcolonial development’, seminar 9th December 2015.

Further information on Decolonising Geography is available.

I am interested in the ways in which we could learn about, write, and do geography in ways that open it out to other ways of seeing, living in and knowing the world. I was Chair for the 2017 Royal Geographical Society with IBG conference, which addressed the theme ‘Decolonising Geographical Knowledges’ and I run a Decolonial Research Lab with graduates and post-docs. My book Decolonizing Geography: An introduction, was published by Polity Press/Wiley & Sons in 2022.

Podcast on Decolonising Research Questions with Professor Linda Mulcahy, of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.



Dr Martha G. Bell

With a PhD in Geography from Pennsylvania State University, USA, Professor Martha Bell now is professor of Geography at the Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). Her research focuses on changing water resources under climate change, historical geographies, and environmental histories of Peru. She gained her BA Archaeology and Geology at Yale University, and undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. She has published extensively in Spanish and English, including Journal of Social Archaeology (2022), Geoforum (2022), Histórica (Lima) (2016), and Colonial Latin American Review (2016). She is the author of Pottery, Livelihoods and Landscapes (Springer, 2017).

Dr Sofía Zaragocín Carvajal Ecuador:

Dr Sofía Zaragocín Carvajal

With a PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge, Professor Sofia Zaragocín is a professor in International Relations at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador, and the Co-Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Inequalities (IASA) at USFQ. Her research focuses on the dynamics of gender and territory under contexts of coloniality and settler colonialism, and the theorisation of decolonial feminism. She has published in Latin American and North Atlantic journals, including Annals of the American Association of Geographers (2021), Antipode (2019), Íconos (2018), and Revista de bioética y derecho (2018), and she co-edited Feminismo y buen vivir: Utopías Decoloniales (2017, Universidad de Cuenca).

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Lucía Rojas Rodríguez

Dr Lucía Rojas Rodríguez

Lucia is a social anthropologist, who completed her PhD in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, having completed a masters at the London School of Economics, a masters at the Free University of Brussels, and her BA in Social Sciences at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima.

Research assistants

Kevin Flores Muñoz

Kevin Flores Muñoz (Ecuador)

Kevin David Flores Muñoz was born in Ecuador on 18 February 2003. Currently, he is working on the UNORCAC Commission of Children and Adolescents (UNORCAC is the Union of Peasant and Indigenous Organizaciones of Cotacachi). Among his principal concerns are unemployment, lack of sources of work, and few employment opportunities for young people in Cotacachi’s Indigenous communities.

Jenny Morales Arotingo

Jenny Morales Arotingo (Ecuador)

Jenny Morales Arotingo, from the Kichwa Kutacachi nationality, Imbabura, Ecuador. Young community leader in Cotacachi county, and activist in various social activities. Student of ancestral midwifery in the Unanchu Mamakuna school of the Women’s Central Committee of UNORCAC.

Apak Perugachi Morales

Apak Perugachi Morales (Ecuador)

Apak Perugachi, of the Kichwa nationality part of the Otavalo people. A young activist committed to revitalizing the Kichwa language and culture, and Kichwa language teacher in the “Muyumi Kanki” Kichwa Cultural Centre. He is co-author of the book Cultural history of Kichwa celebrations in Cotacachi.

Saul Puertas Peña (Peru)

Saúl Puerta Peña is an indigenous person of the Awajún people and was president of the Awajún Organisation of San Ignacio (ORASI-C) in 2003-5 and secretary of the Interethnic Association of Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP) in 2006-14. He has participated in diverse political spaces and events in favour of indigenous peoples and socio-ecological justice, such as COP25 in Madrid in December 2019, and COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Additionally, he has been active in establishing the Platform of Indigenous Peoples to confront Climate Change (PPICC) in Peru. He studied law and political science at the University of San Martín de Porras (USMP) in Lima.

Luisa Taki Bazan (Peru)

Luisa Luz Taki Bazan is a leader in the native community of Supayaku, in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon. She has worked for over five years with various communities of Awajún women on issues of gender and rights. Currently she is studying at the Advanced School of Public Pedagogy Education “Víctor Andrés Belaunde” in Jaén, Peru, in the specialism of early intercultural bilingual education. In addition, she is the president of the Centro Waimaku, which brings together young Awajún and Wampis living in Jaén. Her main concern is to build a generation of young community leaders and she hopes to contribute to the improvement of quality education for Awajún children in their own language.

Advisory Group

María Vicenta Andrade Chalan

María Vicenta Andrade Chalan

An historic leader of CONAIE, María has worked extensively with international development organisations to further the rights and amplify the voices of Ecuador’s Indigenous nationalities and pueblos. María has been a defender of Ecuador’s Indigenous nationalities and peoples from an early age, being elected CONAIE’s women’s representative in 1988-90 and a participant in the 1990 Levantamiento. With a Degree in Local Sustainable Development, and a masters in Development from the Universidad Politécnica Salesiana in Quito, Maria Andrade has a unique combination of political and technical experience. Maria was a candidate for the presidency of CONAIE in 2021, with the support of Loja’s Kichwa Saraguro people. Her agenda was to create a political agenda for the most oppressed women and territories of the country.

Francoise Barbira Freedman

Francoise Barbira Freedman

With a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, Françoise Barbira Freedman teaches and researches at the Department of Social Anthropology and the Centre of Latin American Studies in Cambridge. Her research centres around dynamics of gender and knowledges in pre- and post-colonial intercultural contexts of maternal health and education, and a decolonial theorization of plant-human relations in Amazonia. Her recent articles include ‘What is missing? Reflections on Indigenous Health’ with Axel Kroeger in Cadernos de Campo (2020); Rahman, E. & Barbira Freedman, F. (forthcoming 2023) ‘It takes a village: the learning environment, Amerindian relations and implicit pedagogy for today’s entangled challenges,’ in E. Gilberthorpe (ed.)  Anthropological Perspectives on Global Challenges; and Barbira Freedman (forthcoming) ‘Formabiap’s Indigenous Educative Community, Peru: a biosocial pedagogy’, in Fernando Garcia Rivera, Meredith Castro, Elizabeth Rahman & F. Barbira Freedman (eds.) Oxford Review of Education (special issue).

Juan Carlos Callirgos Patroni

Juan Carlos Callirgos Patroni

With a PhD and an MA from the University of Florida, Juan Carlos Callirgos is currently a lecturer in Anthropology, at the Department of Social Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima. His interests lie in cultural and theoretical anthropology, ethnicity and racism, and postcolonial history. Current research examines representation of fluvial space in Amazonian towns, through a focus on Iquitos through the latter half of the 20th century. His recent publications include ‘Promesas modernas, ansiedades modernas: ambivalencias en torno a los proyectos de transformación de Lima a inicios del siglo XX,’ In L. Soria Torres & G. Castillo Guzmán (eds.) La ciudad desde la antropología: miradas etnográficas (Lima, Fondo Editorial PUCP 2022); and ‘Neoliberal discourses and ethnonormative regime in post-recognition Peru: redefining hierarchies and identities.’ Cultural Studies (2016).

Fernando García Serrano

Fernando García Serrano

Fernando García Serrano is an anthropologist who has worked at FLACSO Ecuador since 2000. He is interested in issues related to interculturalism, the state and ethnicity, legal anthropology and social movements. He is part of the Latin American Network on Legal Anthropology-RELAJU, which is an academic network engaging in research on the dynamics of Indigenous-state relations in spaces of justice and legality. Before arriving at FLACSO, he was research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and did consulting work for the International Labour Organization-ILO, and UNICEF, among others. Recent publications include Del sueño a la pesadilla: El movimiento indígena en Ecuador (FLACSO Ecuador, 2021) [From dream to nightmare: the Indigenous movement in Ecuador], and Vallejo, I., Cielo, C., & García, F. (2019) Ethnicity, gender, and oil: Comparative dynamics in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Latin American Perspectives46(2): 182–198.

Fredy Rafael Grefa Andi

Fredy Rafael Grefa Andi

Trained as a geographer, Fredy Grefa currently works as a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Having completed his PhD in Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020, his research interests encompass environmental planning, Amazon governance for Indigenous peoples and the environment, and decolonial methodologies. A Napo Runa (Amazon Kichwa), he assisted in the elaboration of the Napo Runa nationality’s ‘Plan for Life’ in 2021. Together with geographer Gabriela Valdivia, he is currently engaged in research on Indigenous property regimes, mobile cartographies, and Sacha Runa values in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon. His recent publications include Maccuruchu: Acercamiento al conocimiento indígena y la planificación en la Amazonía norte del Ecuador [Maccuruchu: Approaching Indigenous knowledge and planning in Ecuador’s northern Amazon] (2014, Abya-Yala, Quito).