Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow 2019-2021; Assistant Professor of Anthropology 2021-

PhD, New York University, 2019


Teresa Montoya is a social scientist and media maker trained in socio-cultural anthropology, critical Indigenous studies, and filmmaking. Her current manuscript project, Permeable: Diné Politics of Extraction and Exposure, approaches territorial dispossession and environmental contamination in and around the Navajo Nation as pervasive features of contemporary Indigenous life. Drawing from Diné (Navajo) oral histories and ethnographic research, her project engages local modes of relating, both in its political and kinship imaginings, to understand the entanglements of railroad “checkerboard” land allotment and contestations over sovereignty and jurisdiction among Diné communities of present-day northern Arizona and New Mexico in relation to these toxic legacies. In doing so, she develops the analytic of permeability to reimagine how historical land dispossession and violence in the Indigenous Southwest converges with contemporary issues of environmental regulation, Diné political mobilization, and public health. This project has been generously supported by funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the American Philosophical Society.

Beyond her academic work, she has curatorial and museum education experience in various institutions such as the Peabody Essex Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research. These experiences have helped inform her approaches to pedagogy and public engagement. 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.

Lastly, she acknowledges that the University of Chicago is situated upon the ancestral lands of the Illiniwek, Myaamia, and Potawatomi peoples, 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 a citizen of the Navajo Nation.


Contact Information

Office: Haskell M135
Phone: (773) 702-0297
Email: tmontoya@uchicago.edu