Native American and Indigenous religions traditions, Tibetan Buddhism, Chicanx/Latinx religions, transnationalism, healing historical trauma, decolonization, Indigenous stewardship, and social justice.
Natalie Avalos is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Religious Studies. She is an ethnographer of religion whose work in comparative Indigeneities explores the religious dimensions of transnational Native American and Tibetan decolonization movements. Her ethnographic narratives demonstrate how their respective religious traditions act to empower, heal, and regenerate Indigenous peoplehood in diaspora. She is currently working on her manuscript titled The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: Transnational Indigenous Religious Regeneration and Resistance. 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.
She received her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Anthropology, Psychology, and Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. She earned her M.A. (2010) and Ph.D. (2015) in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a Ford Predoctoral Fellow, FTE Dissertation Fellow, and recipient of the Humanities Dissertation Research Fellowship from UC Santa Barbara’s Graduate Division.
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.
“Latinx Indigeneities and Christianity” in The Oxford Handbook of Latino/a Christianities in the United States. Forthcoming 2019.
“Insurgent Pedagogies: Decolonization is For All of Us.” Teaching Resistance. Oakland, CA: PM Press. Forthcoming 2019.
“We’re Not all Immigrants:” The White Liberal Nostalgia of Immigrant Life.” Sociological Imagination Journal. Forthcoming 2018.
“Red Praxis: Lessons from Mashantucket to Standing Rock.” Co-Authors Sandy Grande and Jason Mancini. In #NoDAPL and Mni Wiconi: Reflections on Standing Rock, edited by Jaskiran Dhillon and Nick Estes. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Forthcoming 2018.
“Decolonial Approaches to the Study of Religion: Teaching Native American and Indigenous Religious Traditions.” Spotlight on Teaching, American Academy of Religion, Teaching Religions as Anti Racism Education, October 2018.
“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.
“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.
“Interview with Inés Talamantez.” Journal for the Feminist Study of Religion, Volume 32, Issue 1 (2016): 153-169.
“Indigenous Visions of Self-Determination: Healing and Historical Trauma In Native America.” Global Societies Journal, Volume 2 (2014): 1-13.
2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Denver, CO
“Widening the Sacred Hoop: Decolonial Healing in a Native/Chicanx Community.” Panel: Decolonization as Healing Session I: Navajo, Native/Chicanx, and Afro-Caribbean Religion. Quad-Sponsored Session: African Diaspora Religions Group, Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit, and Native Traditions in the Americas Group and Religions, Medicines, and Healing Group (accepted).
Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Denver, CO
“Planting Yourself in the Land: Urban Indian Peoplehood and Reindigenizing Places.” Panel: Movement and Indigenous Religions. Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit (accepted).
American Indigenous Research Association, Polson, MT
“The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: Urban Indian Religious Regeneration and ReIndigenizing Places. (accepted)
2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Boston, MA
“Writing and Researching in Native America: Walking the Insider/Outsider Line.” Panel: Indigenous Methodologies: Translating Words, Inhabiting Worlds. Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit, November 20.
Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Boston, MA
“We’re Not all Immigrants:” The White Liberal Nostalgia of Immigrant Life.” Panel: Making White Nostalgia "Great" Again: The Politics of Religion and Memory in the United States. Religion, Memory, History Unit, November 20.
2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA
“Healing as Liberation: Native American and Tibetan Decolonization.” Quad-Sponsored Session: African Diaspora Religions Group and Indigenous Religious Traditions Group and Native Traditions in the Americas Group and Religions, Medicines, and Healing Group, November 22.
Humanitarian Ethics, Religious Affinities, and the Politics of Dissent, Religions and Diaspora and Global Affairs Symposium, University of California, Riverside, CA
“Religion and Resistance in Transnational Native and Tibetan Communities.” October 2.
Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Western Region), Santa Clara, CA
“Interdependence as a Lifeway: The Metaphysical Roots of Self-Determination in Transnational Tibetan Communities.” Asian American Religious Studies section, March 22.
2014 National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies Conference, Salt Lake City, UT
“Interdependence as a Lifeway: Religious Persistence and Indigenous Futurities in a Native/Chicano Community.” Panel: Nepantitlan: Indigeneity in Chican@ Studies, April 10.
2013 Critical Ethnic Studies Conference, Chicago, IL
“Interdependence as a Lifeway: Religiosity as Social Justice in Transnational Indigenous American Communities.” Panel: Religion, Ethnicity and the Nation-State – Part I, September 19.
2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, IL
“Interdependence as a Lifeway: The Metaphysical Roots of Social Justice in Transnational Native Communities.” Native Traditions in the Americas Unit, November 20.
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Annual Meeting, Uncasville, CT
“Interdependence in the Land of Enchantment: The Metaphysical Roots of Self-Determination among Transnational Native Communities.” Panel: Religion, Sovereignty and Revitalization in Native America, June 5. (Panel Organizer and Chair)
2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Montreal, Canada
“Forming Alliances for Healing Post-Colonial Wounds.” Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching and Activism Group, November 8.
2008 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, IL
“My Sister, My Brother, My Mother, My Father: Animals in Native Traditions, A Window to Indigenous Ontology.” Native American Religious Traditions cross-listed with Animals and Religion Group, November 3.