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Mariaelena Huambachano [Quechua, Peru]

Mariaelena Huambachano

Mariaelena Huambachano [Quechua, Peru]

Assistant Professor



Office: 315.443.3861


Women's and Gender Studies


Native American and Indigenous Studies


  • Ph.D., 2016, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • M., 2011, Massey University, New Zealand

Social/Academic Links

Biographic Overview

A native Peruvian Indigenous scholar, Dr. Mariaelena Huambachano, Assistant Professor, joined Syracuse University in the 2021-22 academic year to help build the Center for Global Indigenous Cultures and Environmental Justice. She teaches courses on Indigenous food sovereignty, Climate Justice, Public Policy, and Indigenous research methodologies.

Research Specializations

Dr. Huambachano’s research and teaching are rooted in an interdisciplinary approach to Indigenous Studies, Environmental Studies, and Sustainable Development. These areas encompass food and climate justice, environmental governance, agroecology, public policy, community-driven development, traditional ecological knowledge and decolonizing methodologies.

Upcoming book - University of California Press

Recovering our Ancestral Foodways: Indigenous Traditions as a Recipe for Living Well, University of California Press, forthcoming in 2024

This manuscript is the first relational ethnography of Māori and Quechua peoples’ philosophies of well-being, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and contributions to sustainable food systems. Based on Huambachano's over ten years of fieldwork in Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru, the book explores how Quechua and Māori peoples describe, define, and enact well-being through the lens of foodways and how they operationalise their understanding through the broader goals of promoting physical and spiritual well-being and community wellness.

The book relies on the Indigenous-based research framework of investigation, designed by Huambachano, called the Khipu Model, based on an Andean knowledge-keeping system and rooted in the ways of knowing of Māori and Quechua peoples, values, and belief systems.  

  • Food Fights and Treaty Rights
  • Indigenous Research Methodologies
  • Indigenous Food Cosmologies
  • Reclaiming Indigenous Intellectual Sovereignty
Previous Courses
  • Strategic Planning for Non-profit & Community Organizations
  • Mixed and Indigenous Methods in Community Research
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Sustainability
  • Global Indigenous Studies
  • Introduction to American Indian Studies
  • Global Indigeneity, Sustainability and Food Politics
  • International Indigenous Studies
Research Interests

Food Systems,  Environmental Justice,  Sustainable Development,  Indigenous Philosophies of Well-Being, Public Policy,  Food Sovereignty,  Indigenous Entrepreneurship,  Sustainable Agriculture, International Food Security, International Development,  Indigenous and Western Research Methodologies.

Humanities Center Supports Four Spring 2024 Fellows

(Feb. 27, 2024)

Research ranges from recovering ancestral foodways, making Black space in the digital age, natural reasoning through virtue to stereotypical Caribbean images.

Indigenous Philosophies Can Create Global Change and More Just Futures

(Jan. 18, 2024)

Krushil Watene, Māori scholar from Aotearoa New Zealand, is the 2024 Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities, March 18-29.

Indigenous Studies Researcher Advises the UN on Inequalities in Food Security and Nutrition

(Nov. 27, 2023)

A&S scholar, Mariaelena Huambachano, travels the world gathering and sharing research on the wisdom of “Traditional Ecological Knowledge”, while passing it down to the next generation through her teaching at Syracuse.

A&S’ Native American and Indigenous Studies Program Expands with Addition of Two New Scholars

(Nov. 17, 2021)

Huambachano, Sakakibara bring food sovereignty, cultural resilience perspectives to the Environmental Humanities cluster.


International Reports

2023 UN HLPE. Reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition, United Nations High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition

2022 IPBES Values Assessment Report. Chapter 3: The potential of valuation. In: Methodological assessment of the diverse values and valuation of nature.

2021. UN HLPE. Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems, A report by the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome

2018. Enacting Food Sovereignty in New Zealand and Peru, In: United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Sustainable Development on Indigenous Territories, United Nations HQ, New York

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

2023 Diverse Values of Nature for Sustainability,

2023 Whose values count? A review of the nature valuation studies with a focus on justice, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

2022 Knowledge networks to support youth engagement in sustainable food systemsFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems

2020 Values, Knowledge, and Rights Shaping Land Use in the Peruvian Amazon: The Shimaa and Diamante Case Studies, Case Studies in the Environment, University of California Press

2020 From a Three-Legged Stool to a Three-Dimensional World: Integrating Rights, Gender and Indigenous Knowledge into Sustainability Practice and Law, Sustainability

2019. Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Food as Sacred Medicine in Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru, New Zealand Journal of Ecology, New Zealand Ecological Society

2019. Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Indigenous Foodways in the Andes of Peru, Review of International American Studies

2018. Enacting food sovereignty in Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru: revitalizing Indigenous knowledge, food practices and ecological philosophies, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

2015. Food Security and Indigenous knowledge: El Buen Vivir-Sumaq Kawsay in Peru and Tē Atānoho New Zealand, Māori-New Zealand, The International Journal of Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

2013. Carbon Emissions Scheme: Analysis of the Impact of the NZ ETS, The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Book Chapters

2022 The Role of Indigenous Values and Traditions For Restoring Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Regenerative Food Systems

2020 Indigenous good living philosophies and regenerative food systems in Aotearoa New Zealand and Peru, Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Regenerative Food Systems

2015. The Ayni Principle: An Indigenous theory of value creation, Indigenous Spiritualities at Work

2014. Business and Sustainability: The Camisea Project in the Peruvian Amazon Basin, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Emerging Trends in Developing Economies

Fellowship, Grants and Awards

2023 Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Project: Recovering our Ancestral Foodways: Indigenous Traditions as a Recipe for Living Well

2022 Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) Grant Program, USA, Research Project: Our own foods as healing: The role of Indigenous food-ways in restoring justice and leading a health and well-being agenda.

2022 Ray and Smith Humanities Grant, Syracuse University, USA $15,000 Symposium: “Our own foods as healing: rights, resilience and restoring health and wellbeing”.


Fall Research Competition, UW-Madison, USA $40,000

​Research Project: Indigenous Knowledge, Biodiversity, and Regenerative Food Systems


Global Health Institute – UW, Madison, USA $23,600

Research Project: Living Well: Indigenous Philosophies for Global Resilient Food Systems.


Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (CommNS) – UW, Madison, USA ($9,940)

Research Project: Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the Americas and Beyond.




Nelly McNally Fellowship – UW, Madison, USA

New Zealand Embassy Research Grant (US $10,000)

Research Project: Scaling up Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Biodiversity Preservation in the Highlands of Peru to Promote Sustainable Development Goal Number 2 (Zero Hunger and Poverty).

Emerging Scholar Award, “International Food Security,” The Common Ground Publisher Ltd, Vancouver, Canada (US $600)


College of Humanities Faculty Research Award for “Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Sustainability, and Justice.” Office of the Dean of the College of Humanities, CSUN ($10,000).


Salomon Mini-Grant Award for “Climate Justice and Biodiversity Preservation” Office of the Vice President for Research, Brown University ($500).


Academic Programming Fund for “Political Agroecology and Indigenous Entrepreneurship.” Office of the Dean of the College of Humanities, CSUN ($450).



Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Summer Research Grant ($3,000) Brown University

Institute of Environmental Science and Research (NZ$19,000)

Reserach Project: "Indigenous Perspectives of Food Security Within The Context of Climate Change: First Nations-Māori people.”