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Department of Geography


Decolonial Research Lab: Reading Group


Our informal reading group engages with the urgent demands to decolonize geography, especially in relation to British university-based geographers in their research in Latin America and other parts of the global South.

Our aim is to meet fortnightly during term to discuss a recently published book (or chapters), or each other’s work, with each participant bringing to the discussion their insights into how a reading challenges/ enhances / changes our own current research.

We meet in the coffee room in the Department of Geography from 12.45 to 2pm. Please bring along a sandwich! If you are interested to know more about the group and our present schedule, please contact Sarah Radcliffe on


Michaelmas Term

Programme to be announced shortly


Michaelmas term

  • 19th October: Siby Warrington-Brown (PhD, Geography) – Urban material encounters and socio-spatial knowledge: Indigenous and low-income women’s work in Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • 31st October: Sarah Radcliffe (Geography) – The paradoxical political economies of indigeneity
  • 15th November: Discussion of Elizabeth Povinelli ‘Economies of Abandonment’ (2011, Duke University Press)
  • 30th November: Giulia Torino (PhD, Architecture) Colour-blindness, mestizaje, and the racialization of spatial justice in Bogotá

Easter Term 2019

A series of meetings to discuss decolonising geography with the aim of clarifying how the Department of Geography could move more towards a decolonising praxis and perspective.

  • Friday 24th May 12.45-2pm – preliminary meeting to discuss overall goals and organise an open meeting
  • Friday 7th June 12.45-2pm – agenda to be confirmed
  • Friday 21st June 12.45-2pm – agenda to be confirmed


  • 15 June: Siby Warrington-Brown (PhD Geography) ‘Racism and discrimination in the experience of peri-urban Indigenous women in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’
  • 27 April: A discussion about the challenges of making a research project decolonial, with Han Cheng (geography PhD)
  • 9 March: Dana Brablec Sklenar (PhD, Sociology) – draft chapter
  • 23 February: Mayra Tenorio (MPhil, Gender Studies) leads discussion on Diane Nelson ‘Who counts: the mathematics of death and life after genocide’ (2015, Duke University Press)
  • 9 February: Discussion of Ystanes, M & Strønen, I. 2018. The Social Life of Economic Inequalities in Contemporary Latin America: Decades of Change.
  • 1 December: Jonathan Harris (PhD Geography) – ‘Articulations of Amazigh Indigeneity’
  • 10 November: Sarah Radcliffe (Geography) – ‘Not-quite-neoliberal ecologies and decolonial Indigenous agendas in Ecuador’ (conference paper)


Discussions of papers by Sam Halvorsen, Laurie Denyer-Willis, Jess C. Hope, and many others.


In 2014-2015, we discussed publications by Christina Ewig, Elizabeth Povinelli, Juliet Erazo, Clifford Geertz, and SL Morgensen.

2012-13 – Working Theme: The politics of difference in multicultural governance

  • Thursday 25th April – Penelope Anthias (PhD student, Geography Department, Cambridge) ‘Mobilising resource imaginaries: struggles over land and gas in the Bolivian Chaco’
  • Friday 17th May – Sofia Zaragocin (PhD student, Gender Studies, Cambridge) ‘Two sides of a Gendered Border: Indigenous women on the Ecuador-Colombia border zone’
  • Thursday 6 June – Jorge Resina (Politics Department, Complutense University Madrid, visiting graduate at Geography Department, Cambridge) ‘Building the Plurinational State: Indigenous proposals and the struggle for territory in Ecuador’


Tuesday 25th October 2011

In the first session, I suggest that we look at the following (which together don’t make up too much reading, and people can choose two of three if short for time).

Engle, K. 2010 The elusive promise of indigenous development. Duke UP, Intro and Chap 4

Mignolo, W. 2000 Local histories/global designs. Princeton UP. Chap 1 ‘Border thinking and the colonial difference’

For those who want a more ‘grounded’ exploration of these issues:

Ortiz, P. 2009 Indigenous knowledge, education and ethnic identity. VDM Verlag.

Thursday 3rd November 2011

Talk by Dr Freddy Alvarez (Visiting Scholar, consultant to Ecuador’s Indigenous Development Council) and/or reading proposed by Freddy.

Thursday 17th Nov 2011

Bret Gustafson’s book “New Languages of the State”. Discussion led by Sandra.

Thursday 1st Dec 2011

Piece of writing by Sarah and/or reading on theme of current research.

2011-12 – Working theme: Knowledge and Difference

We meet in the coffee room in the Department of Geography from 12.45-2pm. Bring a sandwich! Please note that sessions are on Thursdays.

26 January 2012: Capucine Boidin (IHEAL- Sorbonne Nouvelle)

9 February 2012: Joanne Rappaport’s book, discussion led by David Lehmann

Intercultural utopias: public intellectuals, cultural experimentation, and ethnic pluralism in Colombia (Duke University Press, 2005; ISBN 0-8223-3599-9) This ethnography, based on a collaborative methodology, explores Colombia’s mutifaceted indigenous movement, focusing on its intellectuals: regional indigenous activists, nonindigenous urban collaborators, local teachers, shamans, and native politicians. It interweaves stories of activists with an analysis of the politics of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, tracing the development of a distinctly indigenous modernity that defies common stereotypes of ethnic separatism or a romantic return to the past. This emerging form of modernity is characterized by interethnic communication and the reframing of selectively appropriated Western research methodologies within indigenous philosophical frameworks.

23rd February 2012 ‘Bilingual Intercultural Education in Ecuador’

Our meeting will be an opportunity to hear from Alejandra Gomez (Education Faculty) about recent reforms and transformations in IBE education in Ecuador. Alejandra will talk about the new Law of Intercultural Education of Ecuador, its impact on EIB, and some of the recent changes in the nature and structure of DINEIB and the Ministry of Education. The readings listed here are designed to provide some background to Alejandra’s talk. The meeting will be slightly shorter than usual – 12.45-1.45pm.


January 2009

Our first meeting (in January 2009) discussed Sian Lazar El Alto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia. (Duke UP, 2008).

Tuesday 17 March 2009

1-2pm in the Coffee Room of the Department of Geography. Our readings will include:

  • Mark Goodale Dilemmas of Modernity Bolivian Encounters with Law and Liberalism (Stanford University Press). [selected chapter – contact Sandra Brunnegger if you wish to have a copy]
  • Hale, Charles 2002 ‘Does multiculturalism menace? Governance, cultural rights and the politics of identity in Guatemala’ Journal of Latin American Studies 34(3): 485-524. doi:10.1017/S0022216X02006521
  • Hooker, Juliet 2005 ‘Indigenous Inclusion/Black Exclusion: Race Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship in Latin America’ Journal of Latin American Studies 37(2). doi:10.1017/S0022216X05009016


Meeting on 5 May 2009

Our discussion was be prompted by: Nuijten, M. 2003 Power community and the state: the political anthropology of organisation in Mexico. Pluto.

Sarah Radcliffe, Department of Geography and
Sandra Brunnegger, St Edmund’s College (