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Anthropology - Canada

Research topics


Decolonizing Research on and Teaching about Indigenous Engagements with Extractivism

Throughout the world, the current boom in mining has disproportionally affected Indigenous peoples and territories. In some cases, Indigenous communities have welcomed extractive development on their lands, while in others, mining has been adamantly opposed. What explains these contrasting modes of engagement with industrial mining? The literature suggests that Indigenous people’s positive engagements with mining are closely related to their being able to exercise their right to self-determination.
But what elements allow for the expression of Indigenous self-determination in mining contexts?
And how decolonial research and teaching on this topic might enhance our understanding of this issue?

Building on seven years of partnered research collaborations with the actors involved in decolonizing research and teaching at the University of Ottawa, as well as representatives of the Eeyouch (Crees of James Bay, Quebec), Canada, and the Maya-Mam, Guatemala, I propose to answer these research questions through comparing these two Indigenous peoples very different experiences with Canadian mining corporations. To do so, I am employing participatory action research (PAR) methodologies as well as integrated knowledge transfer (IKT) approaches. This will allow me to produce locally relevant, actionable knowledge from these communities’ perspectives, as well as decolonial curriculum contents on extractivism. Ongoing critical assessments of my use of PAR and ITK methods will also significantly contribute to enhancing research and post-secondary teaching capacities on Indigenous people fundamentally unequal relationships with extractive industries. My main goal is to document the specific methodological and ethical challenges involved in conducting decolonized research on and teaching about mining in Indigenous territories, and how these challenges might best be addressed.

Activities / Resume


Karine Vanthuyne is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on the Territories of Extraction (GRITE) and a Chairholder in university teaching at the University of Ottawa.

At the crossroads of legal, medical and political anthropology, and Indigenous studies, Karine Vanthuyne’ s research focuses on memory, identity and Indigenous peoples’ rights advocacy. In Guatemala, she examined how the Chuj engaged with genocide court cases that were coordinated by a human rights non-governmental organization. In Canada, she investigated how the Eeyouch (Crees of James Bay, Quebec) remembered forced residential schooling in the context of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is now documenting how the colonial history and decolonization processes of the Maya-Mam (Guatemala) and the Eeyouch are differently encoding their current practices of engagement with industrial mining. She is also researching the contextual factors that lead to the meaningful decolonization of universities’ curricula in Canada.
Throughout these projects, Karine Vanthuyne pays special attention to the methodologies and protocols that ought to be employed in order to sustain truly participatory and decolonial research processes.


Books written by the author

  • Vanthuyne, K. 2014. Le présent d'un passé de violences. Mémoires et identités autochtones dans le Guatemala de l'après-génocide. Paris/Québec: Hermann/Presses de l'Université Laval.

Author-edited books

  • Capitaine, B. & Vanthuyne, K. 2017. Power through Testimony. Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals

  • Vanthuyne, K. (2021). ‘“I want to move forward”: Articulations of Indigenous self-determination at Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, Human Rights Quarterly 43 (2): 355-377.
  • Vanthuyne, K. & Falla, R. 2016. 'Surviving in the margins of a genocide case in the making: Recognizing the economy of testimony at stake in research on political violence'. Journal of Genocide Research 18 (2-3): 207-224.
  • Vanthuyne, K. 2014. 'La justice transitionnelle à l'épreuve d'inégalités structurelles historiques au Guatemala'. Revue québécoise de droit international hors-série mars 2015: 289-305.
  • *Meloni, F., Vanthuyne, K., Rousseau, C. 2014. 'Ethics, interdependence and agency: Rethinking ethics in anthropological research with marginalized children and youth'. Anthropological Theory 15 (1): 106-123.
  • Vanthuyne, K., *Meloni, F., Ruiz-Casares, M., Rousseau, C., Ricard-Guay, A. 2013. 'Health workers' perceptions of access to care for children and pregnant women with precarious immigration status: Health as a right or a privilege?'. Social Science & Medicine 93: 78-85.

Book chapters with peer review

  • Vanthuyne, K., and *Dugal, M.-C. sous presse) 'Rehabilitating Guerillas in Neo-Extractivist Guatemala'. Réd Federman, S., and Niezen, R. Dans Victims and/or Perpetrators: Justice and Identity in the Aftermath of Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • *Mneina, E., Vanthuyne, K., Lopez, A. et Perez, C. (sous presse). ‘"La Gente Fantasma”. Relational sustainability and mining in Guatemala'. Réd Scott, C., Sinclair, K. & Siva Rivera, E. Dans Indigenous Stewardship of Environment and Alternative Development. Toronto : University of Toronto Press.
  • Capitaine, B. & Vanthuyne, K. (2020). 'Témoignages autochtones des pensionnats : entre trauma culturel et autonomie renouvelée'. Réd Celis, L. & Hébert, M. Dans Devoir de mémoire. Perspectives sociales et théoriques sur la vérité, la justice et la réconciliation dans les Amériques, 69-94. Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval
  • Vanthuyne, K. 2019. 'Guérir la vie": du traumatisme à l'autodétermination à Eeyou Istchee'. Réd Bousquet, M.-P., Hele, K. Dans La blessure qui dormait à poings fermés: l’héritage des pensionnats autochtones au Québec, 173-187. Québec: Recherches amérindiennes au Québec.
  • Vanthuyne, K. & Falla, R. 2018. 'Surviving in the margins of a genocide case in the making: recognizing the economy of testimony at stake in research on political violence'. Réd Oglesby, E. & Nelson, D. M. Dans Guatemala, the question of genocide, 73-90. Londres: Routledge.
  • Capitaine, B. & Vanthuyne, K. 2017. 'Introduction'. Réd Capitaine, B. & Vanthuyne, K. Dans Power through Testimony. Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation, 3-26. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
  • Vanthuyne, K. 2017. 'Remembering Residential Schools, Accounting for Decolonization through Development'. Réd Capitaine, B. & Vanthuyne, K. Dans Power through Testimony. Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation, 155-174. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Book chapters without peer review

  • Vanthuyne, K. (sous presse) 'Enseigner le génocide des pensionnats en temps de décolonisation au Canada' Réd Duclert, V., Penser et les génocides et les crimes de masse. Paris : CNRS éditions.