Canadian prize to Oxford DPhil Student working on Indigenous human rights in Latin America


nancy tapias

The Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) awarded the 2020 CALACS Graduate Essay Prize to Nancy R. Tapias Torrado, for her original paper “The problem of not being heard now and being silenced forever: the criminalization of Indigenous women leading the defence of human rights in relation to mega-projects in Latin-America. A case in Honduras”.

Nancy’s paper focuses on the struggle of Lenca leader Berta Cáceres and her organization -the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). It also considers many other just struggles led by indigenous women human rights defenders across Latin America. Theoretically, the paper builds on “the Archimedes’ lever analogy” proposed by Payne, Pereira, and Bernal-Bermúdez” (2020). 

Based on fieldwork conducted in Honduras and other countries in Latin America as part of her doctoral study, Nancy argues that Indigenous women, who are leading the defence of human rights from the abuses committed in connection with mega-projects in Latin America, have managed to overcome the silence that is imposed on them by State and corporate actors through criminalization and repression. By making the abuses visible through mobilization and collective action, and with “affirming actions”, Indigenous women have gained a voice not only in Honduras but on the world’s stage.  And, they have advanced towards the respect and protection of their territories and rights.

A three-person jury reviewed Nancy’s paper through a double-blind review process. The jury highlighted her “significant contribution to our understanding of the gendered and racialized dynamics of extractive industry operations in Latin America and the Caribbean”. Also, they expressed that Nancy’s “emphasis on Indigenous women’s agency in this dynamic is a refreshing correction to much of the literature on this topic”. 

Nancy R. Tapias Torrado is a DPhil student in the Sociology Department and St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Prof. Leigh Payne supervises her doctoral investigation. It explores the impact of social movements led by indigenous women on the practice of corporate actors involved in mega-projects. Her research comes out of her decade of experience working with Amnesty International as the researcher on the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas. Nancy is a Colombian human rights lawyer and international consultant on gender and human rights issues.

The award announcement is in the following link: