Annita Lucchesi, IRT ’11 Launches Sovereign Bodies Institute

Annita Lucchesi

My participation in IRT’s summer workshop, and the mentorship I received afterwards, was one of my first experiences in being asked to consider what kind of scholarly research I intended to do, and was where I first learned to be mindful in deciding where my ‘intervention’ might be. Being asked to imagine myself as a future leader in research was an empowering experience, and I credit IRT with many of the lessons I work to impart upon the students I work with today. Indeed, one of my most powerful memories of IRT’s summer workshop is watching our entire cohort, one by one, learn to proudly identify ourselves as scholars—I now do that same exercise with the students I mentor.

For these reasons, I am proud to share the launch of my most recent research endeavor with the IRT community. Sovereign Bodies Institute (SBI) builds on Indigenous traditions of data gathering and knowledge transfer to create, disseminate, and put into action research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people. SBI is committed to:

  • conducting, supporting, and mobilizing culturally-informed and community-engaged research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people
  • uplifting Indigenous researchers, knowledge keepers, and data visualists in their work to research and disseminate data on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people
  • empowering Indigenous communities and nations to continue their work to end gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people, through data-driven partnerships that enhance research efforts, develop best practices, and transform data to action to protect and heal their peoples.

SBI is a home for generating new knowledge and understandings of how Indigenous nations and communities are impacted by gender and sexual violence, and how they may continue to work towards healing and freedom from such violence. In the spirit of building such freedom, SBI is strongly committed to upholding the sovereignty of all bodies Indigenous peoples hold sacred–our physical bodies, nations, land, and water–and does not accept grants from colonial governments or extractive industries. Similarly, SBI’s work is not limited by colonial borders, concepts of gender, politics of identity or recognition, or ways of knowing. SBI honors the epistemologies and lifeways of indigenous peoples, and is bound by accountability to the land, our ancestors, and each other.

SBI is proud to be an affiliate of Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, a leader in efforts to build Indigenous self-determination for over 40 years. We are also proud to serve as the new official home for the MMIW Database, one of the continent’s largest and most comprehensive databases on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, which includes detailed case data on this issue spanning from 1900 to the present, throughout the Americas.

Though SBI is not housed at an academic institution, we have active partnerships with several universities, and support the growth and development of new generations of scholars through leadership awards for those currently pursuing higher education, research assistant opportunities, fellowships, and partnerships with Indigenous researchers.

If any IRT alumni are interested in working with SBI, please contact Annita at, and visit our website.

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