Graduate Interdisciplinary Fellowship

Indigenous Studies Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship

Indigenous knowledge systems do not readily conform to the disciplinary boundaries of a research university. Indigenous epistemologies, practices and belief systems, often move within and across humanistic, social and scientific divides. Indigenous Studies is more than just an inter-discipline or cross-disciplinary field. It is an epistemological framework that grounds research in the protocols of place acknowledgement, and the researcher’s own positionality. Indigenous research done by indigenous scholars cannot be divorced from wider processes of social and restorative justice and decolonial practices, whether at local or global scales.

PhD students entering departments across the College of Arts & Sciences are invited to apply to the Indigenous Studies Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDF). Students are admitted through their home departments (Anthropology, Environmental Sciences, History, etc.) and then become part of the IDF program. In addition to joining an extended network of mentors and community of scholars at all levels, IDF students benefit from a $6,000 supplement to their graduate stipends, paid in monthly installments throughout the year and as a summer top-off of $1,500. To learn more about the program and for application instructions, please click here.

The Indigenous Studies IDF has two main components, a 3-credit seminar on theories and methods in Indigenous Studies and a year-long series of brownbag presentations on work in progress by faculty, students, and Tribal citizens. For the 2022-2023 academic year, the seminar will be taught in Spring 2023 and the brownbags will generally meet on the second Friday of the month from 10:30-11:45 in Room 116 of the Democracy Initiative (Bond House).

Students in the seminar collaborate with each other and with faculty to organize an event of their choosing, such as a conference, workshop, or community powwow. Funds for the event are provided by the Graduate School as part of the IDF, although students are encouraged to work with faculty on grant proposals for events that may require larger budgets.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, students designed a virtual art exhibit, interviewed faculty mentors, and began planning a conference for Spring 2023. Please read below for details on each of these programs.

Sample Student Work

Students in Indigenous Studies use a variety of methodologies -- critical and creative, theoretical and applied -- across academic disciplines and with communities to ask questions in new ways. Samples of their work are shared below.


poster of digital exhibition In the Spring of 2022, the first Indigenous Studies Interdisciplinary Cluster cohort curated a virtual exhibition. The course was Research Methods and Ethics: Theory and Applicants, ANTH 8559, taught by Sonia Alconini. Visit this fantastic virtual exhibition curated by Ganiyu Jimoh (Jimga), Christian Cancho, and Randall Puckett! (click on the image). The opening will be in the Fall of 2022.





In summer 2022, after her first year at UVA, PhD student Kathleen King (Music) received a research grant for her project, "Soundscape Studies on Stollen Land: How Soundscape Ecology Utilizes Indigenous Knowledge and Affects Indigenous Communities on the Virginia Coast." This project sits in the intersection of critical sound studies and Indigenous studies. As Katie explains, "by working directly with sound ecologists, scientists, composers, and Indigenous scholars, I will see both Indigenous and non- Indigenous methods of scientific studies on climate change that will help inform my own research into soundscape ecology, colonial methods of preservation, and Indigenous knowledge and presence in global pursuits of ecological scientific research." Read more about her work here.


Graduate students approach Indigenous Studies from a variety of disciplines and methods. Our three cohorts of students conduct research in and across the following departments:

Cohort 3 (entering Fall 2023):
María Triviño Hernández -- Religious Studies
Grace Levitt -- Chemistry
Emmy Monaghan -- Art History
Cohort 2 (entering Fall 2022):
Hector Duenes -- History
Elnaz Latifpour -- Art History
David Ruiz Menjivar -- Anthropology (Archaeology)
Omokolade Omigbule -- Anthropology (Archaeology)
Cohort 1 (entering Fall 2021):
Ganiyu Jimoh aka Jimga -- Art and Art History
Kathleen King -- Music
Christian Cancho Ruiz -- Anthropology (Archaeology) 

Faculty Interviews

There are many faculty and staff members working in Native American and Indigenous Studies at UVA, and it can be hard to find all of them across the decentralized and often silo-ed spaces of academia. As a service to future students, Ganiyu Jimoh ("Jimga") (Art History), Christian Cancho (Archaeology/Anthropology), and Randall Puckett (Archaeology/Anthropology) organized a series of interviews with faculty in the field. Students are invited to watch the videos and follow up with student interviewers or faculty interviewees about opportunities for research, mentorship, and collaboration.

Allison Bigelow, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese: watch below or on youtube

Federico Cuatlacuatl (Nahua), Department of Art (Studio Art): watch below or on youtube

Douglas Fordham, Department of Art (Art History): watch below or on youtube

Jim Igoe, Department of Anthropology: watch below or on youtube

Kasey Jernigan (Choctaw), Departments of American Studies and Anthropology: watch below or on youtube

Lauren Simkins (Choctaw), Department of Environmental Sciences: watch below or on youtube

Henry Skerritt, Department of Art (Art History) and Kluge-Ruhe Museum: watch below or on youtube