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Julia von Sigsfeld

Doctoral Fellow


Campus Neues Palais
building 2, room 1.10

University of Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam

Dissertation Project

Epistemic Struggles in Postcolonial Ecuador

Against the historical subalternization of Indigenous knowledge systems through racial and simultaneously gendered discursive practices that have been intimately tied to the construction and reproduction of the (mestizo-)nation and the cultural and material reproduction of coloniality, Indigenous communities and organizations have pursued the constitution of spaces for self-representation and epistemic self-determination, the resignification and advancement of historically subalternized knowledges, and the ‘interculturalization’ of the dominant epistemic regime. The new Constitution of 2008 makes, for the first time in the country’s history, an acknowledgement of the plurality of epistemic frameworks and makes the advancement and protection of “Indigenous knowledges” a duty of the State. In light of this, this research examines subsequent discourses and practices surrounding historically subalternized forms of knowledge, the so-called “conocimientos ancestrales,” as a field of tension between the Indigenous movement and the Ecuadorian state and as such a contentious power-knowledge configuration. Empirically, by means of in-depth interviews and discourse analysis, this research focuses on the Indigenous movement’s higher education initiatives and the National System of Higher Education, Science, Technology, Innovation, and ‘Ancestral Knowledges’.


After studying Political Sciences and Cultural Anthropology at the J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Stockholm University for my undergraduate degree, I completed my Master of Arts in Gender, Development, and Globalisation at the London School of Economics. Throughout my studies I deepened my interest and understanding of Ecuadorian politics, and during my graduate studies I focused on the interrelation between gender and discourses of ‘race’ and nationhood, completing my degree with a thesis titled “Redefining the Ecuadorian Imagined Community – Producing the Nation, Constructing ‘The People’. An Analysis of President Correa’s Weekly Addresses and Speeches.” After receiving a yearlong additional training in Sociology and Anthropology at the Graduate Institute Geneva I started working on my interdisciplinary PhD research as a doctoral fellow of the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms.