Oona Paredes

A photo of Oona Paredes
E-mail: oparedes@humnet.ucla.edu Office: Royce 268B


Oona Paredes is a Southeast Asianist specializing in the ethnographic and archival study of the southern Philippines, in particular its indigenous non-Muslim minorities known collectively as the Lumad. To date she has worked primarily with the Higaunon Lumad of northern Mindanao, but also studies the experiences of comparable indigenous minority groups regionally and globally. At UCLA she teaches classes on Southeast Asia, Indigenous Peoples, and the Philippines.

Before joining UCLA in 2019, Oona was at the National University of Singapore, where she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, and also served as the Faculty Convenor for the Religious Studies Minor program, and as the Philippines country study group coordinator for the Asia Research Institute. She was also previously a Strom Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto Department of History (2017), a Fellow of the American Association of University Women (2009-2010), and a Graduate Research Fellow of the U.S. National Science Foundation (1995-1999).



Ph.D. and M.A., Anthropology, Arizona State University

International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance, Fordham University

B.A., Anthropology with a Minor in History, University of Hawai`i at Manoa

A.A., Liberal Arts, Honolulu Community College



Oona is an anthropologist and ethnohistorian by training, and she studies the cultural and historical intersections of religion, politics, and identity, especially the ways in which minority “tribal” communities interact with state power and popular culture. Her current field research project looks at traditions of political authority in the modern Philippine state among the Higaunon Lumad, and how this authority articulates with oral traditions (encompassing both customary law and indigenous religion) to reflect acute internal concerns about identity, indigeneity, and cultural heritage preservation.

Her earlier archival research documents the extensive colonial-era contact between Iberian missionaries and the ancestors of today’s Lumad peoples, and analyzing the enduring cultural imprint of Western colonialism and Christianity on what was long presumed to be “uncolonized” peoples. Her first book, A Mountain of Difference (2013), frames this significant cross-cultural encounter as a distinctly “pericolonial” experience, in which various Lumad communities actively and strategically incorporated colonial power at the peripheries of claimed colonial territory for nearly three centuries.


Selected Publications

2019    “The Business of Being Indigenous: Preserving Lumad ‘Tradition’ in the Modern Philippine Context,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 50(1): 86-106.

2018    “Indigenous Peoples: Between Rights Protection and Development Aggression.” Handbook of the Contemporary Philippines, eds. Mark Thompson and Eric Batalla (London: Routledge), pp. 341-351.

2017    “Projecting Order in the Pericolonial Philippines: An Anthropology of Catholicism beyond Catholics,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 28(2): 225-241.

2017    “Imagining the Future of Lumads in Bangsamoro,” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 30(2)/31: 93-105.

2016    “Custom and Citizenship in the Philippine Uplands: The Challenges of Indigenous Leadership among the Higaunon Lumad.” In Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia, eds. Henk Schulte Nordholt, Ward Berenschot, and Laurens Bakker (Leiden: Brill), pp. 157-179.

2016    “Rivers of Memory and Oceans of Difference in the Lumad World of Mindanao,” TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia 4(2): 329-349.

2015    “Indigenous vs. Native: Negotiating the Place of Lumads in a Bangsamoro Homeland,” Asian Ethnicity 16(2):166-185.

2013    A Mountain of Difference: The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, Southeast Asia Program Publications).