Academic Staff

Professor Colin Samson

Staff positionDeputy Director of CISH and BA Liberal Arts Director (Spring/Summer 2016)
Telephone2662 (non Essex users should add 01206-87 to the beginning of this number)

Colin studied sociology and medical anthropology in the United States and Britain. His interests span the social sciences and humanities. Since 1994, he has been involved in a long term research project working with the Innu peoples of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula. The early phases of this work involved a human rights campaign with Survival International, resulting in the publication of the widely-cited report Canada's Tibet: the killing of the Innu in 1999. In addition to several journal articles and book chapters on the Innu, his book on the effects of forced assimilation, A Way of Life that Does Not Exist: Canada and the Extinguishment of the Innu was published by Verso Press in 2003. The book was honoured with the Pierre Savard Award by the International Council for Canadian Studies in 2006.

In 2013 a sequel to these works was published, entitled A World You Do Not Know: Settler Societies, Indigenous Peoples and the Attack on Human Diversity (School of Advanced Studies Press). This book examines the intellectual and political architecture by which settler societies justified an attack on the culturally diverse ideas and practices of indigenous peoples. Based partly on ethnographic fieldwork in Innu hunting camps in Northern Canada, the book also looks at contemporary efforts by indigenous groups to reverse some of the more damaging aspects of colonialism through cultural revitalisation projects.

During the Autumn 2015 term, Colin will be Eminent Visiting Professor at the American Indian Studies Center, University of Wyoming, USA.


BA (University of Arizona) MSc (London School of Economics) PhD (University of California , Berkeley)

Current research

Colin has recently completed a jointly authored book with Carlos Gigoux entitled Indigenous Peoples and Colonialism: Global Perspectives (Polity). The book analyses the many common colonial processes which indigenous peoples continue to experience under the dominion of states. It attempts to show that similar processes of dispossesion and violation of rights occur in First and Third World countries. He recently submitted an extended essay called 'A State Strategy of Dispossession' to the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, looking at land claims processes as a form of dispossession involving land theft, extortion and the termination of indigenous rights.

Research interests
  • Human Rights/Culture/History of Indigenous Peoples
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Colonialism
  • Environmental Issues
  • Health
  • Mental Health
  • Arts and Literature
Teaching responsibilities

Sociology undergraduate modules:

  • Visions of American Society
  • Ethnic Encounters in the Making of the US
  • Visual Cultures: Ways of Seeing America and Britain

Humanities core interdisciplinary modules:

  • The World in Question: Legacies of the Enlightenment
  • Dangerous Ideas: Essays and Manifestos as Social Criticism

MA Human Rights and Refugee Studies course

  • MA module 'Colonialism, Culture and Human Rights' examines contemporary human rights conflcts through history, film and art

Current PhD students:

Catherine Duxbury 'Animals, Gender and Science: A Cultural History, 1948-1968'
Nawel Hamidi  'The experience of Hogra among Amazigh women of Algeria'
Natalia Hernandez Jimenez  'Mexicanos and Mexicans in Arizona: A Study of In-Group Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism'
Seb Randall  'The rise of instrumentalism in the praxis of psychotherapy'
Suzanne Robinson ‘Taking It From The Top: Northern Perspectives on Southern Canada, Newcomers to the North, and their People’
Tatiana Sanchez Parra 'Children born as a result of sexual violence during times of armed conflict in Colombia: Knowledge, Negotiation and Future'
Leah Wheeler  'Assembling Existence: The Cowlitz Tribe's Journey from Surviving to Thriving'

Selected Publications of Current and Former PhD Students:

Adams, Jacqueline (2012) 'Surviving Dictatorship: A Work of Visual Sociology', London: Routledge
Adams, Jacqueline (2013) 'Art Against Dictatorship: Making and Exporting Arpilleras under Pinochet', Austin: University of Texas Press
Samson, C. and Carlos Gigoux (2009) ‘Globalization and Indigenous Peoples: New Old Patterns’, in Turner, B. (ed.) The Routledge International Handbook of Globalization Studies, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 287-311
Sapignoli, Maria, R. K. Hitchcock, W. A. Babchuk, J. Luedert, and L. Martindale (2010) 'Botswana. In The Indigenous World 2010', Caecelie Mikkelsen, ed. Pp. 554-561. Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. (Professor Samson wrote it in December 09, January 2010)
Hitchcock, R. K., Sapignoli Maria, Babchuk W. (2010) “What About Our Rights? Settlements, Subsistence, and Livelihood Security among Central Kalahari San and Bakgalagadi”. International Journal of Human Rights, Forthcoming 
Sapignoli, Maria (2009) “Indigeneity and the Expert: Negotiating Identity in the Case of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve”. In Law and Anthropology, Michael Freeman and David Napier, eds., Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 247-268
Cassell, Elizabeth (2009) 'Anthropologists in the Canadian Court in Law and Anthropology', Michael Freeman and David Napier, eds., Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 187-217
Cassell, Liz, ‘Some Reflections on Hydroelectric Development and the Land Rights of the Innu Who Live in Quebec and Those Who Live in Labrador’ Journal of Human Rights in the Commonwealth, 1, No. 1, pp.3­–17 
Acton, Alison (2010) 'Getting By with a Little Help from My Hunter: Riding to Hounds in English Foxhound Packs,' in Nathan Kowalsky, (Ed.), Hunting - Philosophy for Everyone, London: Wiley-Blackwell, 80-92
Short, Damien (2008) Reconciliation and Colonial Power: Indigenous Rights in Australia', Aldershot: Ashgate
Short, Damien (2010) ‘Cultural Genocide and Indigenous Peoples: A Sociological Approach,’ International Journal of Human Rights, 14, 6, 831-846

Past students:

Alison Acton  ‘Foxhunting Spaces: The Role of the Landscape in the Construction of Foxhunting Identity’ - now part-time lecturer at the Open University and undertaking commissioned research on foxhunting
Jacqueline Adams  'Women's Political Folk Art During Pinochet Years in Chile' - now Honorary Associate Professor, University of Sydney, Australia
Ramona Bacon  'Filipina Identity in Britain' - now researcher in the Department of Computing Sciences, Univesity of Essex
Anne Beaumont-Vernon  'Trans-sexual Identity in Britain and Thailand' - now part-time Lecturer at the Open University
Katya Brooks  ‘On the Road to Nowhere: Education and the Innu of Labrador’ - now working as Research and Policy Coordinator for Independent Academic Research Studies in London
Liz Cassell  ‘The Lie of the Land: The Struggle for Land Rights Recognition of the Innu who live in Quebec’ Currently preparing thesis for a book, and working as an independent researcher and teacher
Oonagh Corrigan  Medical Ethics and Clinical Trials - now Senior Lecturer at the University of Plymouth
Lucy Collinson  Cultural Survival and Revival of Scottish Gaelic Music and Culture - now a musician
Rebecca Fan  'Governing Indigenous Knowledge? A Social Science Perspective' - now Visiting Fellow, Institute for the Study of Social Issues, UC Berkeley, USA.
Carlos Gigoux  ‘Colonizing Images: The Fuegians and the Politics of Representation’ - now lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies Centre, University of Essex.
Paul Godin  The Politics of Community Psychiatry - now a Lecturer at City University
Moto Kawashima  Western Cultural Attitudes towards Whaling - now a Lecturer in Sociology at Gunma University, Japan
Carol McAleavey  'Shifting relations of class, gender ethnicity and age on allotments in Northeast Essex.' - now retired.
Sandali Maharaj-Ramdial  'Between pundit, psychologist and politician: The effects of colonialism on the mental health of Indians in Trinidad,' - now psychotherapist, Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago.
Susan Mason  ‘A Cultural History of Images of the Foetus’ - now retired.
Mihalis Mavrommatis  Mental Health Policy in Greece - now Lecturer in Sociology at University College, Suffolk
Al Mistrano  British Images of the United States - now Head teacher, Etonbury Academy, Bedfordshire
Stuart Nairn  The Sociology of the Casualty and Casualty departments - now a Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University
Katsuyoshi Nishi  Spiritual Healing in Japan - has set up his own business as a freelance literary translator in Japan.
Damien Short  The Reconciliation Process between White Australia and Aboriginal Peoples - now a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London
Maria Sapignoli  "Local Power through Globalized Indigenous Identities: The San, the State and the International Community' - now post doctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Halle, Germany.
Pierrot Ross Tremblay  ‘A Genealogy of Amnesia: Memory and Forgetfulness in Essipiunnuat‟s Narratives of the Salmon War (1980-81)' - now
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Joy van Helvert   ‘Talking at Cross Purposes: The Experiences of Chinese Students at a British University - now a researcher at University College Suffolk
Lucia Vazquez Mendoza  'Conversions to Neo-Pentecostalism in Mexico' - now a post doctoral researcher in Dublin, Ireland


'A World You Do Not Know: Settler Societies, Indigenous Peoples and the Attack on Human Diversity, London' School of Advanced Studies Press, 2013.

'A Way of Life That Does Not Exist: Canada and the Extinguishment of the Innu, London' Verso Press and St. John’s: ISER Books, 2003. Winner of the 2006 Pierre Savard Award from the International Council of Canadian Studies.

'Health Studies: A Critical Multidisciplinary Reader' edited book, Oxford: Blackwell, 1999, including four original chapters, ‘Biomedicine and the Body’, ‘Disease and the Self’, ‘The Physician and the Patient’, ‘Creating Sickness’.

'Dispossession and Canadian Land Claims: Genocidal Implications of the Innu Nation Land Claim'  in Andrew Woolford, Alex Hinton and Jeff Benvenuto, (Eds) Colonial Genocide in North America, Duke University Press, 2014, 382-416.

'The long reach of frontier justice: Canadian land claims ‘negotiation’ strategies as human rights violations' (with Liz Cassell), 2013, International Journal of Human Rights, 17, 1, 2013, 35-55.

'The Rule of Terra Nullius and the Impotence of International Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples', in Essex Human Rights Review, Special issue 25th anniversary of the Human Rights Centre,5, 1, 69-82

'Environmental and Health Benefits of Hunting Lifestyles and Diets for the Innu of Labrador' (with Jules Pretty) Food Policy, 2006, 31, 6, 528-553.

'Indigenous Peoples Rights: Anthropology and the Right to Culture',  in Rhiannon Morgan and Bryan Turner, (Eds.), Interpreting Human Rights: Social Science Perspectives, Routledge, 2010, 68-86.

'A Colonial Double Bind: The Social and Historical Contexts of Innu Mental Health' in Laurence J. Kirmayer & Gail Valaskakis (eds), The Mental Health of Canadian Aboriginal Peoples: Transformations of Identity and Community, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008, 195-244.

'Sociology and the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples' (with Damien Short) in Lydia Morris (ed.), Rights: Sociological Perspectives, London: Routledge, 2006, 168-186.

Alexis de Tocqueville,’ in John Scott (ed.), Fifty Key Sociologists: The Formative Thinkers, London: Routledge, 2006, 177-182.


The Idea of Progress and Indigenous peoples: Contemporary legacies of an enduring Eurocentric prophesy  Plenary at the British Sociologicial Association Conference, 15-17 April 2015

Nutak: The Filming of Memories of Aboriginal Relocation  talk and film screening at Joseph Myers Center for the Study of Native American Issues at the University of California at Berkeley, 30 April 2014

Residency with two presentations and film screening at the University of Wyoming's Center for the Humanities and American Indian Center, 16-20 September 2014

Social Transformation for Indigenous Peoples and 'Release' for Canada: An Essay on the Ethnocidal effects of the Innu Nation Land Claims Agreement to be presented at SSHRC workshop on Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, 20-22 September 2012

The Effects of the Idea of Progress on Indigenous Peoples: Resistance and Prospects for Cultural Revitalization  University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA, 19 February, 2010

Globalization, Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples University of Tromsø, Norway, 3 September 2008, and at University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece, 5 November, 2008

Terra Nullius: The Hidden Justifications for Environmental Destruction of Indigenous Territories in Canada and the US British Association of Canadian Studies, University of Warwick, 8 April 2008

"What is hardship to a free man?" The Impact of Cultural Continuity and Discontinuity among Northern Indigenous Peoples, invited presentation, Saitama University, Tokyo, Japan, 10 January 2008, same presentation also given at Hakodate Future University, Japan, 11 January 2008

The involved observer: reflections on ethnography and the question of methodology Saitama University, Tokyo, Japan, 14 January 2008

The Health Benefits of Moving Forward to an Indigenous Hunting Lifestyle: The Quest of the Innu to Combat Assimilation Plenary Address, British Association For Canadian Studies, Italian Association For Canadian Studies, Centre De Recherche En Etudes Canadiennes Et Sur L'epoque De L'expansion Europeenne & Centro Di Ricerca Sui Sitemi Costituzionali Comparati, Università di Genova, Genova, Italia, 27-28 October 2006

Additional information

 Analysis of the Canadian Land Claims system as a form of dispossession of indigenous peoples

Please note that Colin is on leave for Autumn term 2015.

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