Rebecca Haboucha

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20222023 Forum on Heritage

Rebecca Haboucha


University of Cambridge, 2021

Rebecca Haboucha earned her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge in 2021. She is a heritage and food studies scholar who has worked on issues of climate change, migration/diaspora, cultural sovereignty, and intergenerational transmission amongst Indigenous peoples and refugees, respectively. Rebecca completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology at McGill University and her master’s in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. At UPenn, she is working on her first monograph, Reconciliation in the Anthropocene: Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage in Canada and Chile. Prior to joining Penn, she was the Research Collaboration Officer for the Wilberforce Institute and Treatied Spaces Research Group, University of Hull. Her publications include ‘Reimagined Community in London: The Transmission of Food as Heritage in the Afghan Diaspora’, in an edited volume, and ‘Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage in the Chilean Atacama Desert: Negotiating identity claims and community perceptions of long-term climate change’, in press for Heritage & Society.

Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage in the Anthropocene: A transnational comparative study of the Northwest Territories, Canada, and northern Chile

Reconciliation and climate change are two of the greatest issues that the heritage and museum professions must address today. Based in the Department of Anthropology, my proposed project, “Reconciliation in the Anthropocene”, is to revise my dissertation for publication as a book and develop outreach activities with and for my case study communities. My book aims to show Indigenous perceptions of the impacts of climate change and colonization on their heritage and how, in turn, these perceptions can contribute to future discourse and frameworks for safeguarding Indigenous heritage at multiple organizational levels. Moreover, I seek to demonstrate how interpretations of environmental change are rooted in cultural groups’ senses of place, ontologies, and socio-political circumstances. I will achieve these aims by re-analyzing my ethnographic and interview data from working with Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and northern Chile, reflecting on current heritage and environmental policies as well as the most recent extreme weather events in both case study locations. I will use theories of indigeneity, memory, decolonization/decoloniality, place identity, and the study of affect and emotion in heritage practices to frame my research. In doing so, I argue that the universality of climate change can be the route through which non-Indigenous peoples begin to empathize with the long-term loss of land and culture experienced by Indigenous peoples. Such intercultural empathy can, by extension, lead to the decolonization of heritage in a dialogical manner and help dismantle cultural policies that innately discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities.