The Fall 2021 Asia-Pacific Indigenous Studies Seminar led by the Universiti Malaya (UM) and University of California, Davis (UCD), brought together the work of APRU members together to share knowledge, build connections between researchers, and enhance teaching programs in Indigenous and First Nations Studies.
Many APRU members have world-leading departments and programs in the areas of Indigenous, First Nations, Māori, Pacific, or Native American Studies. While institutions conduct outstanding research in these fields, the deeply contextual nature of most Indigenous Studies has meant that there has been insufficient focus on how universities can practice and promote comparative research and teaching in this area.
The Fall 2021 seminars facilitated fruitful exchanges between UM and UCD faculty, students, and alumni, who conduct research with, by, and for Indigenous Peoples and communities. Participants took the opportunity to explain how their respective universities are engaged in a wide range of relevant research areas. The four seminars focused on Land Rights and Management; Arts and Values; Living Languages; and Histories and Leadership.
“We at UCD are strong in the fields of social, racial and environmental justice as well as inclusion, and Indigenous Studies are obviously tied to all these fields and constitute an important focus area within the UCD system” said Dr. Joanna Regulska, a UCD Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and UCD’s Vice Provost and Dean of Global Affairs.
Dr. Yvonne Lim Ai Lian, UM’s Director of International Relations Office and Professor at UM’s Department of Parasitology, introduced UM’s reach out to the Indigenous peoples in the Malaysian Peninsular and Sabah in East Malaysia. The research team has some Indigenous members.
“We are really proud to share the Indigenous peoples’ cultures, and there is a lot of great information we can share within the APRU Indigenous Knowledges Network,” Lim said.
“I am really looking forward to a reopening of the borders after the pandemic to have the opportunity to travel and visit our peers in the network,” she added.
Dr. Ruhana Padzil, Senior Lecturer at UM’s Department of Gender Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, reported on her research on grassroots activism amongst Orang Asli, the oldest inhabitants of Peninsular Malaysia. Padzil’s research focusses on Orang Asli women activists in Leftists movements.
“It is extremely interesting for me to learn how exactly these women joined the Communists and what their motivations were,” Padzil said.
The APRU Indigenous Knowledges Network will continue to hold annual events and explore opportunities to expand into the Asia-Pacific region.
The series was organized and led by Dr. Jessica Bissett Perea (Dena’ina [Alaska Native]) (Musicology), Associate Professor of Native American Studies, UC Davis; Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom (Bidayuh) (Anthropology), Universiti Malaya; Dr. Patricia Nora Anak Riget (Bidayuh) (Linguistics), Deputy Director of International Relations Office and Senior Lecturer, Department of Asian and European Languages, Universiti Malaya; and Dr. Kamal Solhaimi Bin Fadzil (Anthropology), Senior Lecturer, Anthropology and Sociology, Universiti Malaya.
The collaboration for the seminar series was initiated through the mentoring match between UC Davis and Universiti Malaya faculty of the APRU APWIL Mentoring Program, which has become a framework for success for other mentoring pairs of the program now and for the future. Read more about their experiences at here.