Our Community

Shepherd and sheep petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon in Nevada, United States. Stock image from Unsplash. Shepherd and sheep petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon in Nevada, United States. Stock image from Unsplash.

The founding Native American and Global Indigenous Studies (NAGIS) Working Group comprises University of Miami faculty and staff who research and teach across diverse fields of knowledge. This community is expanding over the course of Academic Year 2020-21 to incorporate faculty, staff, and students from across our institution.

Co-Coordinators

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  • Tracy Devine Guzmán

    Associate Professor

    Email: tdguzman@miami.edu

    Department of Modern Languages and Literatures


    Tracy Devine Guzmán teaches Latin American Studies and Global Indigenous Studies with an emphasis on Brazil, the Andes, and South-South relations. Her research interests include intellectual history, social and political theory, and cultural production, especially as these fields intersect with questions of race/ethnicity and environmentalism. Her current book project, “Transcontinental Indigeneity: Linking the Americas and the Global South,” is a comparative history that traces the flow of Native and non-Native engagements with diverse notions of indigeneity across the Atlantic, from the colonial period to the present. She is also editing a volume on “Teaching Indigenous Studies in and of Latin America” for the Modern Languages Association.  

    Devine Guzmán serves on the advisory board for the US Network for Democracy in Brazil and volunteers frequently as a translator for social movements in Latin America. You can find some of her work here

  • William Pestle

    Director of Latin American Studies

    Associate Professor

    Email: w.pestle@miami.edu

    Latin American Studies Program


    Will Pestle is a bioarchaeologist interested in the reconstruction of the lifeways of the prehistoric peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. In his research, he uses a variety of biogeochemical analytical techniques to study patterns of subsistence, mobility, and environmental interaction in prehistoric human populations. He is in the third year of an international multi-disciplinary effort tracing patterns of exchange and migration in the Formative Period of the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, and is beginning a three-year NSF-funded project looking at the lived effects of Tiwanaku influence in Middle Period San Pedro de Atacama. Also, after 10 years of work at the southern Puerto Rican site of Tibes, he is now the director of a regional project focused on human-environment interaction in the western Puerto Rican municipality of Añasco.

Team Members

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  • Traci Ardren

    Professor

    Email: tardren@miami.edu

    Department of Anthropology


    Traci is an anthropological archaeologist interested in New World prehistoric cultures. Her research focuses on issues of identity and other forms of symbolic representation in the archaeological record, especially the ways in which differences are explained through gender. Current preoccupations include the role of cuisine in identity formation in the later periods of Classic Maya culture and prehistoric southern Florida, as well as the ways we can read memories in ancient living spaces. Traci directs the Matecumbe Chiefdom Project looking at the political organization and environmental adaptation of the pre-Hispanic occupants of the Florida Keys and is a staff member of the Proyecto de Interacción Política del Centro de Yucatán, at the Classic Maya site of Yaxuna, in Yucatan, Mexico where she is investigating the ways ancient road systems allowed for the flow of information and ideas and how culinary tourism and modern foodways intersect. As Consulting Curator for Mesoamerican Art, Traci has curated a number of exhibits at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, including “The Jaguar’s Spots: Ancient Mesoamerican Art from the Lowe Art Museum” in 2010, “Flowers for the Earth Lord: Guatemalan Textiles from the Permanent Collection” in 2006, and most recently, “Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World in the Ancient Art of the Andes” in 2016. She grew up in and around the Ringling Museum of Art and the many ways in which objects are allowed to convey our wants and needs is a lifelong fascination.

  • Shatha Baydoun

    Librarian Assistant Professor

    Email: sbaydoun@miami.edu

    University of Miami Libraries


    Shatha Baydoun is liaison to the Departments of History, and Modern Languages & Literatures. She received a master’s degree in Information Science from Wayne State University in 2018, with a focus on special collections and metadata. 

    Miss Baydoun also holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Michigan, with a specialty in West African and Middle Eastern history. Her master’s thesis was a cross-comparative study of the Lebanese diaspora in West Africa. Specifically, the ways in which colonialism, identity, and nationalism intersect within the diaspora setting. Her current research interests include the various ways libraries, museums, and archives design metadata for Arabic and Islamic cultural artifacts.

    She was a history instructor at Henry Ford College for ten years and taught courses on the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Miss Baydoun has lived in Dearborn, Michigan and was born and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She speaks Krio, the national lingua franca of Sierra Leone, and is also a native Arabic speaker and writer.

  • Denisse Córdova Montes

    Acting Associate Director, Human Rights Clinic

    Lecturer in Law

    Email: dcordova@law.miami.edu

    School of Law


    Denisse Córdova Montes, J.D., M.P.H., is the Acting Associate Director and a Lecturer in Law with the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to that, Denisse was based in Germany, where she coordinated the Gender and Women’s Rights Program at FIAN International, an international human rights organization that promotes and defends the rights to food and food sovereignty. At FIAN, she oversaw human rights fact-finding and advocacy in Africa, Asia, and Latin America around rural, peasant, and Indigenous women’s rights. She also supported social movements’ lobbying with the United Nations in Geneva, New York, and Rome in cases concerning access to land, water, adequate nutrition, decent working conditions, and against extractive and corporate actors. Denisse was also involved in global standard setting processes, particularly concerning rural and Indigenous women's rights.

    Denisse’s research focuses on food, food sovereignty, women’s rights, and human rights, and is particularly interested in social movements’ role in the advancement of human rights. Please click here to view some of her publications. Student projects she has supervised include a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women focused the rights of Indigenous women and girls, a submission to the Organization of American States San Salvador Protocol Working Group on the rights of rural and Indigenous women in the Americas, the production of an amicus brief before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in the case of the Indigenous Communities of the Lhaka Honhat Association v. Argentina, and advocacy with the UN Commission on the Status of Women on the rights to food and food sovereignty of Indigenous and rural women.

  • Viviana Díaz-Balsera

    Professor

    Email: vdiaz-balsera@miami.edu

    Department of Modern Languages and Literatures


    Viviana Díaz Balsera is Professor of Spanish.  She works on early modern epistemologies with emphasis on colonial Mexico. In her research she has examined how Nahua intellectuals appropriated intersections between European-Iberian and Mesoamerican cosmogonic and socio-political imaginaries to preserve indigenous knowledges in the coercive environment of Spanish colonization. Her current research is on the Franciscan missions in La Florida and the role of extant bilingual literature in the globalization of the Timucua peoples.

  • Caleb Everett

    Chair of Anthropology Department

    Professor

    Email: caleb@miami.edu

    Department of Anthropology


    Caleb's research examines language and its interaction with nonlinguistic cognition, culture, and the environment. For more information and a more complete list of Caleb's publications, visit his personal site.

  • Tamar Ezer

    Acting Director, Human Rights Clinic

    Lecturer

    Email: txe127@miami.edu

    School of Law


    Tamar Ezer, LL.M., J.D., is the Acting Director and a Lecturer in Law with the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to that, Tamar taught and supervised projects at Yale Law School as a Lecturer in Law and Visiting Scholar with the Schell Center for International Human Rights and as Executive Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy. Tamar further taught International Women’s Rights at Tulane Law School’s summer program and at Georgetown University Law Center’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, where she supervised test cases challenging discriminatory laws and oversaw fact-finding and legislative projects in Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Philippines. Additionally, Tamar served as Deputy Director of the Law and Health Initiative of the Open Society Public Health Program, where she focused on legal advocacy to advance health and human rights in Eastern and Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. This encompassed work on reproductive health, violations in health care settings, HIV, palliative care, drug policy, Roma health, and intersections between access to justice and health. Tamar also clerked for Judge Robert Sweet at the Southern District of New York and Justice Dorit Beinisch at the Supreme Court of Israel. Tamar graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.

    Tamar’s research focuses on health and human rights, access to justice, women’s rights, children’s rights, and human rights pedagogy, and she has a particular interest in Indigenous women’s rights. Please find some of her publications at https://www.law.miami.edu/faculty/tamar-ezer. Student projects she has supervised include a submission to the Canadian National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and advocacy with various United Nations bodies to address intersections between gender-based violence against Indigenous peoples and environmental justice.

  • Caroline LaPorte

    Email: c.laporte@umiami.edu


    Caroline LaPorte is an immediate descendent of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. Caroline is a Texas Bar licensed attorney who graduated with honors from the U. During her time in law school, she clerked for the chief legislative council at Little River and for the Office of Tribal Justice at the Department of Justice. She was a fellow in the Human Rights Clinic and the Children and Youth Law Clinic, where she was a recipient of the Natasha Pettigrew Memorial AwardShe was the first Senior Native Affairs Policy Advisor for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the StrongHearts Native Helpline, where she worked in D.C. on federal legislation and policy relating to Indian country. Though she is the current Judicial Advisor to the Seminole Tribal Court, her professional experiences have been primarily centered on violence against Native women. Her work focuses on tribal sovereignty, jurisdictional issues, access to culturally based resources, MMIW, housing, human rights, firearms and tribal justice systems all within the gender-based violence framework. She currently serves on the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Task Force on Victims of Crime and she is a founding member of the National Working Group on Safe Housing for American Indians and Alaska Natives and author of their published report. She is also a founding member of NAGIS and the adjunct instructor teaching the first Indigenous studies course at UM. 

  • Nicholas Metheny

    Assistant Professor

    Email: nxm982@miami.edu

    School of Nursing and Health Studies


    Nicholas Metheny, PhD, MPH, RN is a settler nurse-scientist whose research focuses on the structural determinants of intimate partner violence and its negative health implications in multiply marginalized populations globally, including LGBTQ and Two-Spirit Indigenous men who have sex with men. He is a member of the Indigenous Health Equity pillar of the Nursing Now initiative, a global advocacy network sponsored by the World Health Organization, which advocates for embedding Indigenous cultural safety practices into nursing education. He currently serves on the Secretariat of the Lancet Commission on Gender Based Violence and the Maltreatment of Young People. 

  • Daniel Musgrave

    Lecturer

    Email: dxm1370@miami.edu

    Department of English


    Dan Musgrave (Osage) was raised by animals and multiple generations of indomitable Osage women in rural Kansas. He is both a writer and photographer and his work most commonly focuses on the intersections of the human and animal world. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri– St Louis and an MA in Anthropology from Iowa State University. For nearly seven years, he did linguistic, cognitive, and behavioral research with captive bonobos while they trained him in the art of being a better person. At UM, Dan is a Lecturer in English Composition, teaching English 105 and 106 as well as Creative Writing. As a writer, his work has earned recognition from the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Iceland Writers Retreat, Odyssey Writing Workshop, and numerous literary journals. Samples of his work can be found at danmusgrave.com.

  • Timothy Norris

    Librarian Associate Professor

    Data Scientist

    Email: txn60@miami.edu

    University of Miami Libraries

    Institute for Data Science and Computing


    Timothy Norris, PhD is a Librarian Associate Professor at University of Miami Libraries, and Data Scientist at the Institute for Data Science and Computing, who studies the flow of data through academic research and society at large. His work focuses on geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial data visualizations (cartography), participatory research methodologies, and how the sustainable governance of human, natural and informational (data) resources intersect. This research builds upon a prior non-academic career with work focused on community-based mapping and public engagement as tools to mediate public/private relationships centered on the management and governance of natural resources in the global south. Throughout his career he has worked with individuals, communities and organizations practicing this kind of “New Cartography” in Belize, Nevada, Virginia, Malaysian Borneo, the Andes of Peru, and most recently in informal settlements on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The outcome of this work is to better understand the management and governance of natural and informational resources, how the governance of natural resources and information are intertwined, and how to make geospatial technologies more available, accessible, and meaningful to undeserved communities at scales from local to global.

     

  • Kate Ramsey

    Associate Professor

    2017 Hemispheric and Caribbean Studies Faculty Lead - UMIA

    Email: kramsey@miami.edu

    Department of History


    Kate Ramsey works on Caribbean history and culture. Her research and teaching interests include the politics of religion, law, and performance; medicine and healing in the Atlantic world; Caribbean intellectual history, artistic production, and social movements; and the connection between anthropology and history. Her first book, The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti (Chicago, 2011), examines the history and legacies of penal and ecclesiastical laws against the Vodou religion in Haiti. It won the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians First Book Prize, the Elsa Goveia Book Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians, the Haitian Studies Association Haiti Illumination Project Book Prize, and a Médaille Jean Price-Mars from the Faculté d’Ethnologie, Université d’État d’Haïti. Ramsey is co-editor with Louis Herns Marcelin of Transformative Visions: Works by Haitian Artists from the Permanent Collection (Lowe Art Museum, 2015). She was the recipient of a 2015-2018 UM College of Arts and Sciences Gabelli Senior Scholar Award.

    Her next single-authored book project studies how Afro-Caribbean religions became a touchstone in the fields of mind-body medicine and psychology in the late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic world. It centers, first, on how early writings about Afro-Caribbean spiritual practices shaped and were shaped by medical ideas about the imagination during the final decades of slavery in the British Caribbean. It goes on to examine how following emancipation, and with the arrival of asylums across the region, colonial elites pathologized Afro-Caribbean religions in increasingly psychological terms. Focusing on mid- to late nineteenth century Jamaica in particular, the study analyzes how religious communities rejected and reversed such diagnoses, combatting colonial pathologies through spiritually-empowered forms of political struggle.

    Ramsey’s current research centers, as well, on the history of Vodou objects confiscated by U.S. marines during the 1915-1934 occupation of Haiti, and thereafter donated or sold to anthropology, natural history, and military museums in the United States and beyond. Based on collaborative research with Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique, this project spotlights the interlinked histories of Afro-Caribbean religion, U.S. imperialism, and museum collecting during the early to mid-twentieth century.

  • Jyotika Ramaprasad

    Professor

    Email: jyotika@miami.edu

    School of Communications


    Jyotika Ramaprasad is Professor in the School of Communication at the University of Miami. Her research interests include communication for social change and journalism studies, and are international in scope, particularly focused on Africa and Asia though more recently she has also worked in Europe. Ramaprasad has edited two research books, both related to the study of journalists. She has also published her research in various journals. Ramaprasad’s work in the social/behavioral change communication arena includes work on HIV communication in Ugandan slums, on flood preparedness messaging in the lagoons of Vietnam, and on communicative interactions with health care providers among the Roma people of Macedonia. Most recently, she has worked on communication for a ULINK project on designing artificial reefs to reduce wave damage in Miami Beach, Florida. These projects place local culture front and center, and this has led to Ramaprasad’s teaching interest in intercultural communication, with a recent focus on indigenous communities.

  • Meryl Shriver-Rice

    Director, Education

    Email: mshriverrice@umiami.edu

    Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy


    Dr. Shriver-Rice is the Director of Environmental Media at the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. As both a visual anthropologist and palaeoethnobotanist, her interdisciplinary background includes dual degrees in Anthropology and Biology, a Master’s degree in Archaeology (University of Nottingham, England), and a Ph.D in Interactive Media, Film, and Visual Culture (University of Miami). Her archaeological work investigates the organic evidence for paleoecology, prehistoric agriculture, and trade in consumables amongst the pre-Roman city-states of modern day Tuscany. Her current media studies research focuses on the intersection of science, digital culture, and corporate branding in shaping societal values and perceptions of the environment.

  • Daniel Suman

    Professor

    Email: d.suman@miami.edu

    Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society


    My work focuses on management of coastal areas, including mechanisms to increase institutional cooperation, capacity building, development of management plans, and reduction of conflicts between various resource users. Marine and coastal protected areas and adaptation to climate change are additional areas of my work. I dedicate much of my effort to work in the Caribbean Basin and Latin America but also work around the world.

    My undergraduate work in Chemistry and Latin American Studies was at Middlebury College (1972).  I earned Masters degrees in Education and Latin American Studies from Columbia University (1978), a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California, San Diego), and a J.D. with specialization in Environmental Law from the University of California, Berkeley (1991).

  • Jodi Sypher

    Curator of Education

    Email: jsypher@miami.edu

    Lowe Art Museum