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, with a comparative look at the experiences of other indigenous minority groups regionally and globally. At UCLA she teaches classes on Southeast Asia, Indigenous Peoples, and the Philippines.

In 2017, she was appointed inaugural Strom Visiting Professor of the Department of History at the University of Toronto. Previously, she was Assistant Professor in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her past fellowships and grants include awards from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research, Henry Luce Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. She was also a Graduate Research Fellow of the U.S. National Science Foundation from 1996 to 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 in an indigenous minority group (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 documented 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 “uncontacted” 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 alliances at the outer edges of claimed colonial territory, beyond the direct reach of Spanish power, for nearly three centuries.

Selected Publications

2022    “More Indigenous than Others: The Paradox of Indigeneity among the Higaunon Lumad,” SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, forthcoming.

2022    “Making Mindanao: Place-Making and People-Making in the Southern Philippines,” Southeast Asia Research, forthcoming.

2021    “New Decade, New Directions: Advancing the Study of Southeast Asian Religions,” with Alexandra Kaloyanides, Chiara Formichi, Cuong Mai, Richard Fox, Kelly Meister Brawn, Nathan McGovern, and Penny Edwards, SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 36(3): 573-600.

2021    “Indigenizing Culture: Research Collaboration and Heritage-Making with Higaunon Lumad Communities in the Southern Philippines.” In Indigenous Peoples, Heritage and Landscape in the Asia Pacific: Knowledge Co-Production and Empowerment, edited by Stephen Acabado and Da-wei Kuan (New York and Milton Park: Routledge), pp. 183-201.

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

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

2017    “Custom and Citizenship in the Philippine Uplands.” In Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia, eds. Henk Schulte Nordholt, Ward Berenschot, & Laurens Bakker (Leiden: Brill), pp. 157-179.

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    “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/SEAP).