Michael Cepek

Michael Cepek

Fellow: Awarded 2023
Field of Study: Anthropology

Competition: US & Canada

Michael Cepek holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is also President of the Cofán Survival Fund, a nonprofit that supports the environmental, medical, and educational initiatives of Ecuador’s Indigenous Cofán Nation.

All his projects have academic, applied, and activist dimensions, and they are based on a 30-year partnership with Cofán colleagues, including two Cofán students pursuing doctorates in anthropology at his university. Cepek’s work explores the relationship between cultural difference, political power, and environmental change in the Andean foothills and Amazonian forests of Cofán territory.

His research bridges the gaps between public anthropology, theoretical innovation, and direct contributions to Cofán political struggles. As a teacher and scholar-advocate, he engages debates in environmental, economic, and political anthropology, religious studies, conservation policy and practice, and collaborative research, filmmaking, and activism with Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. Cepek is the author of A Future for Amazonia: Randy Borman and Cofán Environmental Politics (2012) and Life in Oil: Cofán Survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia (2018). With Cofán co-author Cesario Lucitante, Cepek is now writing his third book, Visionary Violence: Shamanism, Dispossession, and Death in Amazonia.

Photo Credit: Michael Cepek

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