Ivan Vargas


Ivan Dario Vargas Roncancio is a PhD candidate in Romance Studies. He holds a BA in Law from the National University of Colombia, and an MA in Bioscience and Law from the same institution with a thesis on Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the Colombian Amazon (High Distinction). Affiliated with the Center for Public Policy Research at the University of California, Davis, and the PLEBIO (Politics and Legislation in Biodiversity and Traditional Knowlege) research group at National University of Colombia. His research interests include cultural studies of law in contemporary Latin America, plant studies and the humanities, the ontological turn in anthropology, decolonial studies, and Amerindian cosmologies in the Andean-Amazonian region.

His dissertation focuses on plant-human relations in the Andean-Amazonian region, and how such relations redefine politics and knowledge about nature in Latin America at large. Locating his research in Sibundoy (Northern Andes), and Vaupés (Colombian Amazon), both seized under export-oriented agro-business and mining projects, he explores how plant-human encounters shape socio-political life in these regions, on the one hand, and landscapes on the other. In a context where local human populations and entire ecologies are severely impacted by pervasive waves of extractivism, he explores (1) how plant-human relations permeate local cultures and cosmologies, and (2) how indigenous practices with plants might challenge anthropocentric views of politics, law,  society, and knowledge. Also, (3) he studies how the social life(s) of plants shape indigenous relationships with their territories, while creating alternatives to profit-oriented economic models. In this sense, the project aims to contribute to ongoing debates in the fields of indigenous studies, Amerindian anthropology, and political ecology, over issues of cultural and ecological difference, and alternatives to development in Latin America.