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Reclaiming our Roots: Indigenous Philosophies of Well-being and Foodways

Eggers Hall, 220

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The world is rushing towards a tipping point. Human-induced global warming will soon become uncontrollable. Food insecurity is already rampant. The COVID-19 health crisis has underscored how crucial and fragile our food systems are and has demonstrated the need for a different approach to relating to Nature for sustainable living. The need to include Indigenous philosophies of well-being at the heart of food systems, health, and nutrition security is urgent. I’ll discuss the role of Indigenous peoples’ philosophies of well-being in driving the restoration of Indigenous lands and foodways through Indigenous food sovereignty (IFS) to promote global sustainable food systems.

Mariaelena Huambachano, is a native Peruvian Indigenous scholar, who immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand, at a young age, inspiring a collaborative and cross-cultural approach to her work in Indigenous food sovereignty, environmental justice, Indigenous philosophies of well-being, and Indigenous research methodologies. She has been an Indigenous community-engaged scholar of food and environmental justice for over a decade. During this time, she has worked with Indigenous communities, grassroots organisations, and civil societies globally to restore community health and well-being. In fall 2021, she joined Syracuse University to help build the Global Indigenous Cultures and Environmental Justice Research Centre and Department from the ground up. She is an active member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a lead author in the 16th High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (UNFAO) Report on “Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems”, and of a global report on the ‘values’ assessment of nature for the Intergovernmental Panel of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES). Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and scholarly anthologies, including Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems; Sustainability; the New Zealand Journal of Ecology; The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability; The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability; Food Studies, and The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Regenerative Food Systems. She is currently working on her book manuscript entitled “Recovering our Ancestors’ Foodways: Indigenous Traditions as a Recipe for Living Well”. The book is a celebration of the lore of Quechua and Māori and of the worlds’ Indigenous peoples in safeguarding food systems, innovation, practices, and, ultimately, the well-being of humankind.  


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MAX-Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, MAX-Program on Latin America and the Caribbean


Havva Karakas-Keles


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