Viviane Weitzner, PhD
Research for Collective Matters
Territorial Defence. Self-Determination. Social Justice.
For over 20 years, I have had the privilege of accompanying and supporting Indigenous and Afro-Descendant peoples in the Americas – from the Arctic to the Tropics – in their collective life projects and strategies for territorial defence. I use my skills as an award-winning legal anthropologist, specialist in collaborative natural resources management, researcher and writer – and as a translator between worlds – to open up possibilities for transformative change.
And at a time when “our house is on fire” (Greta Thunberg), “I can’t breathe” (George Floyd) and when the global COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc with day-to-day life everywhere, I find ever more motivation in my work accompanying communities to pave pathways towards social and environmental justice, respectful and peaceful relations, self-determination and “a world where many worlds fit.”
I am happiest doing fine-grained fieldwork side-by-side community knowledge-holders, strengthening capacities, and making visible and raising awareness about the perspectives of those most marginalized by ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ projects. I take particular pleasure producing well-grounded, compelling analyses based on diverse perspectives – women, youth, elders, for example – to illuminate ways forward for progressive change in policy and practice aligned with collective territorial rights and self-determination at the local, national and international levels.
If I can also weave these perspectives with theoretical debates – including co-theorizing with my research partners – then I will have managed to produce concrete results that also feed into theoretical dialogue, pushing the multiple possibilities of committed, collaborative research to its fullest extent.
This work is how I give back to the greater collective house we are all part of. It’s dedicated to our current and future generations, and to my own children, Saskia and Alejo.
"I take particular pleasure producing well-grounded, compelling analyses based on diverse perspectives – women, youth, elders, for example – to illuminate ways forward for progressive change in policy and practice aligned with collective territorial rights and self-determination."
Areas of Expertise & Collaborative Research
Founder & Principal Researcher
Department of Anthropology
Senior Program Advisor (Consultant)
Co-Lead, Indigenous Law, Indigenous Rights & Interlegalities Research Axis
Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA)
Policy Advisor (Consultant)
Responsible Finance, Business and Human Rights
Forest Peoples Programme
In 2009, as a result of complaints we made about flyovers of our territory undertaken by a company contracted by Anglo-Gold Ashanti to explore without our consent, I came to know Dr. Viviane Weitzner.
Today, I give from my heart my most sincere thanks because as a result of the collaborative work with her the community managed to structure several strategies of territorial defence.
Thanks to her, today we are a stronger community in the exercise of self-government. Thanks to her, there is a greater exercise of autonomy in the community, and without a doubt, a strengthened organization.
We are a community that has broad national and international recognition, thanks to this collaborative work with Viviane.
The Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reserve of Colonial Origin in Colombia manifests from the heart its deep gratitude to Dr. Viviane Weitzner for her ongoing support, for being a person deeply committed to communities, for the discipline and passion with which she works, for her rigour around respecting our consent, for her humility and for her unfailing love.
Héctor Jaime Vinasco
Resguardo de Orígen Colonial Cañamomo Lomaprieta, Colombia
The committee was impressed with Weitzner’s in-depth local knowledge of difficult to study and often dangerous areas of the country, her eminently readable ethnographic vignettes, her theoretical innovations, and her thoughtful reflections on her own positionality as someone who could not remain neutral in the civil conflict that wracked Colombia for the duration of the research.
Law & Society Association (USA)
Dissertation Prize Committee
2019 Law & Society Association Dissertation Prize Honorable Mention
You’re a very engaging professor, and I love how you include readings that span a diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds. It’s interesting to read anthropology in different parts of the world by people of various origins and backgrounds. Additionally, I think your research is really cool!
Student Evaluation (Anonymous), Anthropology & Development Course