Teresa Montoya is a social scientist whose research and media production focuses on contemporary problems of sovereignty and toxic contamination in relation to historical legacies of land dispossession and resource extraction across the Indigenous Southwest. Her current manuscript project integrates Diné oral histories and ethnography to analyze ongoing environmental and legal impacts for Diné communities following the 1979 Church Rock uranium spill and the 2015 Gold King mine spill across the Navajo Nation. In doing so, she develops the analytic of permeability to reimagine how settler territorial regimes and violence in the Indigenous Southwest converge with contemporary challenges of environmental regulation, Diné political mobilization, and public health. Her broader research interests include water insecurity and the politics of water governance of the Colorado River.
Her research has been published in American Journal of Public Health, Cultural Anthropology, Anthropology Now, Journal for the Anthropology of North America, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, and Water International. In addition, she has curatorial experience in various institutions, including the Peabody Essex Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and most recently the Field Museum where she served as guest curator in the recently opened exhibition titled, Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories.
Themes of toxicity and settler colonialism interrogated in her writing are also central to her ongoing media projects in photography and filmmaking. A curated selection of these images is shared on her website.
She currently serves as an advisory board member for HWISE-RCN, the Household Water Insecurity Experiences Research Coordination Network as well as a member of the Nominations Committee for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
Lastly, she acknowledges that the University of Chicago is built upon the ancestral homelands of Council of Three Fires—the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa—as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations, among others, in addition to the city of Chicago being home to the third largest urban Native population in the United States today. She is Diné and an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation.