Visiting Assistant Professor
Sustainability and Social Change

Olin-Rice 158A

Curriculum Vitae

Professor Cifuentes is an interdisciplinary scholar who investigates the connections among Indigenous politics and global environmental challenges, including climate change, deforestation, and ‘Smart Earth’ technologies—with a geographical focus on Amazonia. She draws from critical geography, science and technology studies, and decolonial and Indigenous studies. Her teaching thus builds from global and intersectional perspectives when engaging with environmental justice, climate politics, or sustainability.

Professor Cifuentes’ first manuscript, Rethinking Global Climate Politics: Integral Territorial Ontologies, Ancestral Knowledges, and the Defense of Life in Amazonian Indigenous Climate Initiatives illustrates how Amazonian Indigenous organizations and climate initiatives incorporate ontological and territorial politics, ancestral knowledges, and the agency of more-than-human beings from local scales to global climate politics. She argues that Amazonian Indigenous climate initiatives are founded on integral territorial ontologies—or conceptions of territories as indivisible entities or lifeworlds that encompass multiple relationships not only between humans and other living beings, but also among more-than-human beings. Her fieldwork took place in four countries and involved collaborating with the Coordinator of Indigenous Organization of the Amazon Basin (COICA), its Women’s Council, and the School of Political Training of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon. Additionally, she has carried out research projects in Southern Chile and the Tibetan Plateau, China.

Professor Cifuentes received her PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara and has previously taught at Pitzer College. She is affiliated with the Environmental Justice / Climate Justice Hub at UCSB, and is Editorial Fellow of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space Digital Magazine. Outside academia, she has worked in environmental and public health projects with Indigenous organizations, the United Nations Development Program, the Peace Corps, Conservation International, among other organizations.

  • PhD. Global Studies, designated emphasis in Environment and Society. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2021
  • MSc. Environment and Development, The London School of Economics and Political Science, 2012
  • B.A. Economics & B.A. Liberal Arts (sp. Anthropology). Universidad San Francisco de Quito, 2010