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avatar for Vanessa Watts

Vanessa Watts

McMaster University
Academic Director, Indigenous Studies Program
Vanessa Watts is Mohawk and Anishinaabe Bear Clan who lives with her partner and two children on Six Nations of the Grand River. She is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies and Sociology at McMaster University. Her research examines Indigenist epistemological and ontological interventions on place-based, material knowledge production. Vanessa is particularly interested in Indigenous feminisms, sociology of knowledge, Indigenous governance, and other-than-human relations as forms of Indigenous ways of knowing.

In 2018, she was awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her project “An Indigenist Sociology of Knowledge: Indigenous social lives in Indigenous studies, sociology and political science (1895 and beyond).” The project interrogates over a century of representations of Indigenous peoples in sociology and political science. It will contribute to new knowledge in the field of Indigenous studies through an inductively generated concept map of Indigenous understandings of social beings. This method centres Indigenous voice and knowledges, and convenes it as an authoritative source of analysis. Vanessa is also a Research Fellow at the Yellowhead Institute at Ryerson University, a centre that privileges First Nation philosophy and is focused on policies related to land and governance.