Natalie Avalos
PostDoctoral Associate, 2nd year
Native American and Indigenous Studies

Office Location: Ketchum 162

Pronouns: she / her / hers



Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2015
M.A., Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2006

Research Interests

Native American and Indigenous religions traditions, settler colonialism, transnationalism, healing historical trauma, decolonization, Indigenous stewardship, comparative Indigeneities, Chicanx/Latinx religions, and Tibetan Buddhism


Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies
CU Religious Studies Department
Tibet Himalaya Initiative

Natalie Avalos is as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Ethnic Studies and will be joining the department as an Assistant Professor in the 2020-21 academic year. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara in Religious Studies with a special focus on Native American and Indigenous Religious Traditions and Tibetan Buddhism. She is a Ford Predoctoral Fellow, FTE Dissertation Fellow, and recipient of UC Santa Barbara’s Humanities Dissertation Research Fellowship. Dr. Avalos is an ethnographer of religion whose work in comparative Indigeneities explores the religious dimensions of transnational Native American and Tibetan decolonial movements. Prior to joining CU Boulder as a postdoc, she taught Religious Studies at Connecticut College. She is currently working on her manuscript titled The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Refusal. It argues that the reassertion of Indigenous metaphysics not only de-centers settler colonial claims to legitimate knowledge but also articulates new forms of sovereignty rooted in just (and ideal) relations of power between all persons, human and other-than human. She is a Chicana of Apache descent, born and raised in the Bay Area.

Natalie’s approach to research and teaching is informed by a critical ethnic studies/critical Indigenous studies pedagogy. A critical ethnic studies approach considers the intersections of race, power and a history of colonialism. This pedagogy asks ‘how does an event, like forced removal, reflect the needs and wants of the power structure?’ ‘How does racialization and white supremacy operate to dispossess peoples?’ And ‘how does an oppressed community express its own voice and assert power in the face of continued dispossession?’ In addition, a critical Indigenous pedagogy takes seriously Native epistemological claims, such as how individual notions of selfhood may become operationalized in projects for sovereignty and survival.

Selected Publications

Refereed Articles and Book Chapters

“Planting Yourself in the Land: Urban Indian Peoplehood and Reindigenizing Places.” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief (In Press).

“Red Praxis: Lessons from Mashantucket to Standing Rock.” Co-Authors Sandy Grande and Jason Mancini. In Standing with Standing Rock: Voices From the #NoDAPL Movement, edited by Jaskiran Dhillon and Nick Estes. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, June 2019.

“We’re Not all Immigrants:” The White Liberal Nostalgia of Immigrant Life.” Sociological Imagination Journal, Volume 54, No. 1 (2018): 57-65.

“Re-Enchanting the Land of Enchantment: Religious Regeneration in a Native/Chicanx Community.” Special Issue, ChicanX and Native American Indigeneities, edited by Gerardo Aldana, Salvador Guerena and Felicia Lopez. rEvista: A Multimedia, Multi-genre e-Journal for Social Justice. Volume 5, Issue 2 (2017): 1-21.

“Indigenous Visions of Self-Determination: Healing and Historical Trauma in Native America.” Global Societies Journal, Volume 2 (2014): 1-13.

Contributions to Edited Collections

“Decolonizing the Classroom: Settler Colonialism, Knowledge Production, and Antiracism.” In Global Perspectives on Dialogue: Cultivating Inclusive, Authentic, and Intersectional Classroom Conversations, edited by Ashmi Desai and Hoa N. Nguyen. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan (In Press).

“Latinx Indigeneities and Christianity” in The Oxford Handbook of Latino/a Christianities in the United States. Forthcoming 2020.

“Insurgent Pedagogies: Decolonization is For All of Us.” Teaching Resistance: Radicals, Revolutionaries, and Cultural Subversives in the Classroom, edited by John Mink. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2019.

“Becoming Human: ‘Urban Indian’ Decolonisation and Regeneration in the Land of Enchantment.” In The Brill Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s), edited by Greg Johnson and Siv Ellen Kraft. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2017.

Works in Progress

The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Resistance – book manuscript in preparation

Professional Associations

American Academy of Religion
American Studies Association
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
Critical Ethnic Studies Association
American Indigenous Research Association
National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies
Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social