Sylvia 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 Indigenous and decolonial ecologies.
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. Her fieldwork took place in four countries and involved collaborating with the Coordinator of Indigenous Organization of the Amazon Basin (COICA). Her research has been published in the Journal of Latin American Geography, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, among other venues. Cifuentes has previously taught at Pitzer College and Macalester College. Outside academia, she has worked in environmental and public health projects with several Indigenous and environmental organizations, including the United Nations Development Program, the Peace Corps, and Conservation International.