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Dr. Oona Paredes


Dr. Oona Paredes is an anthropologist and ethnohistorian who specializes in the study of Indigenous minorities in Southeast Asia. She is currently Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Prior to UCLA, she taught in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, and was appointed the inaugural Strom Visiting Professor in History at the University of Toronto in 2017.

Oona has been working with the same community of Higaunon Lumad on the island of Mindanao since 1994. For the past decade, she has been supervising the compilation of Higaunon oral traditions (panud) for the preservation of Higaunon language and cultural heritage. The compilation was published in 2023 under the title Su Panud Ta Baligiyan: Su Kasaysayan hi Apù Intampil daw su mga Otaw Gabi ha Anay ha Napuun ku Kalapaya ta Kalibutan (“The oral tradition of Baligiyan: The story of the ancestor Intampil and the people long ago who came after the flood”). In 2024 the book was adopted into the local Indigenous Peoples Education Program (IP Ed) of the Philippines’ Department of Education in Region X. Authored by the esteemed migpanud (chanter) Datu Limpukawan Budluwà Ansihagan, it is only the second book ever published entirely in the Higaunon language.

Oona’s most significant publications to date include: A Mountain of Difference: The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao (Cornell SEAP, 2013); “Custom and Citizenship in the Philippine Uplands,” in Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia (Brill, 2016); and several journal articles including “Rivers of Memory and Oceans of Difference in the Lumad World of Mindanao” TRaNS (2016); “Projecting Order in the Pericolonial Philippines: An Anthropology of Catholicism beyond Catholics” TAJA (2017); “Preserving ‘Tradition’: The Business of Indigeneity in the Modern Philippine Context” JSEAS (2019); and “More Indigenous than Others: The Paradox of Indigeneity among the Higaunon Lumad,” Sojourn (2022).

She was born and raised in the Philippines, with ancestral Visayan roots in northern Mindanao.