Dr Sebastian Vacas-Oleas

sebastian oleas

Postdoctoral Affiliate

I am a social anthropologist working with Shuar people in Southeast lowland Ecuador (DPhil in Social & Cultural Anthropology at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, St Cross College, 2022). I am interested in contemporary indigenous political organisation and its entanglements with and survival of colonial forms of governance. My research focuses on Shuar understanding of history, cultural continuities and ruptures in indigenous political movements and institutions, and resource extraction on indigenous land. My doctoral dissertation examined how indigenous notions of history helped Shuar people oppose colonial narratives of history to mobilise multiple and multifaceted political efforts vis-à-vis industrial mining in their lands. 

Currently, I am working with Shuar friends and collaborators to produce a volume of indigenous-authored life histories that aims to contribute to the history of Latin America’s indigenous movements. Our collaborative work on Shuar history also aims to establish a team of indigenous researchers and use geo-location mapping techniques and video recordings to chart Shuar ancestral locations, migratory movements, traditional political alliances, and changes in indigenous relations with their land. 

Broader areas of interest include: Anthropology of Lowland South America, indigenous self-government, egalitarianism, autonomy, and Amerindian cosmology and cosmopolitics.