Shanya Cordis is a first-generation Black and indigenous (Lokono and Warau) Guyanese-American. As a sociocultural anthropologist, her research focuses on indigeneity across the Americas and the Caribbean, black and indigenous political subjectivities and resistance, transnational black and indigenous feminisms, and critical feminist geographies.
Her manuscript, "Unsettling Geographies: Antiblackness, Gendered Violence, and Indigenous Dispossession in Guyana" is a critical feminist ethnography that tracks how geographies of racial difference undergird indigenous recognition policies, extractive economies, and neocolonial capitalism, advancing the annexation of indigenous territories and entrenching antiblack logics. Secondly, Unsettling Geographies introduces relational difference, a theoretical framework which captures the social and political entanglements of the afterlives of slavery, conquest, and indentureship and its constitutively gendered and sexualized nature. Through an intersectional analysis of the racial and sexual imaginaries of the body—namely African, Amerindian, and Indian women— this book also traces how gendered violence is relationally configured and central to colonial capitalist expansion disrupting narratives that depict structural forces of dispossession as merely postcolonial remnants or nationalistic struggles.
In addition to her research, Dr. Cordis is deeply invested in cultivating collaborative black and indigenous feminist praxis, both in and out of the classroom, to generate more expansive visions of black and indigenous liberation and autonomy. Critical black and indigenous feminisms offer a vital way to analyze movement(s) toward more transformative and decolonial futures, emphasizing how multiple axis of power—heteropatriarchy, racism, capitalism, and colonialism — work together to structure our societies. As part of imagining and co-creating other ways of being in the world, she explores and incorporates poetry and other performative arts into her scholarship and pedagogy. As part of her teaching practice, she aims to incorporate teaching methods that cohere theory and praxis and bring the insights of interdisciplinary anthropological research to students’ embodied lived experience. The classroom, beyond being a site of institutional socialization, is as a space for liberatory transformation, challenging students to not only be cognizant of why social inequities persist, but also to imagine and create pathways toward addressing them in their respective avenues of study/interest.