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Julie Velásquez Runk

UGA Arch
Associate Professor

Trained as both an ecologist and an anthropologist and retaught by indigenous Wounaan scholars and community members, Julie has just over thirty years doing interdisciplinary community-based research and collaborative ethnography.  She works with communities to ask how to sustain forests and nurture human wellbeing in mosaic landscapes; how to strengthen cultural and environmental rights and sovereignty in the face of tremendous change; and how to make science more collaborative in its theory and by incorporating multiple voices.  Drawing from her intersectional identity and work with NGOs and government, she bridges traditional disciplinary boundaries by mixing social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities in her research, teaching, and mentorship.  She authors and co-authors work for academic and non-academic publics and maintains ethics of care and redistributing privilege.


Ph.D (dual, joint in):  Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

                                  Anthropology, Yale University

                                  Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden

Research Areas:
Research Interests:
  • Political ontology of illegal rosewood logging
  • Storying lifeworlds of people and birds
  • People, history, deforestation, and zoonotic disease
  • Community-based, indigenous, and co-produced research
  • Land rights, conservation, and sovreignty
  • Food, landscapes, and power
  • Silversmithing, identity, and inter-ethnic relations
  • Panama and Colombia
Selected Publications:

Chaves, L.F., N. Gottdenker, J. Velásquez Runk, A. Liebman, K. Williams-Guillén, L.  Kelley, I. Perfecto, P. Seufert, T. Jonas, L. Bergmann, S. Kruger, K. Anderson, and R. Wallace. 2021.  Scientists say land use drives new pandemics.  But what if “land” isn’t what they think it is.  Pandemic Research for the PeopleDispatch 7: 1-16. 

Velásquez Runk, J. 2020. Los Wounaan y la Construcción de su Paisaje: Identidad, Arte, y Gobernanza Ambiental en la Frontera Panamá-Colombia. Bogotá: Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH). 

Velásquez Runk, J. 2020. Homenaje a hapk’ʌʌn Rito Ismare Peña (Eulogy for hapk’ʌʌn Rito Ismare Peña).

Osorio Chiripua, H., J. Velásquez Runk, F. Herrera, and O. Ferrari. 2020. Una guia wounaan para la reforestación.

Velásquez Runk, J., L. Kosen, F. Herrera, and M. Kellogg. 2020. Evite la enfermedad, protege la comunidad (Avoid the Illness, protect the Community). 

Velásquez Runk, J.  2020. Tips for researching (especially during the travel and in-person research restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic). 

Vardeman, E. and J. Velásquez Runk. 2020. Panama’s illegal rosewood logging boom from Dalbergia retusa.  Global Ecology and Conservation. 23:e01098.

Velásquez Runk, J.  2020. Decolonizing more-than-human scholarship, building collaboration.  LASA Foum. 51(2): 94-98.

Peña Ismare, C.,+J. Velásquez Runk,+ R. Ismare Peña, and C. Carpio Opua. 2020. The Wounaan haaihí jëeu nʌm ritual with the k′ugwiu: Reinforcing the world by music, singing, and dancing. Pp. 234-256. Amerindian Socio-cosmologies between the Andes, Amazonia, and Mesoamerica:  Towards an Anthropological Understanding of the Isthmo-Colombian Area. Oxfordshire: Routledge Press. + indicates co-lead authors

Velásquez Runk, J., T. Peña Conquista, and C. Peña Ismare. 2019. Animal transference and transformation among Wounaan.  Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 24(1): 32-51.

Equipo cultural wounaan (C. Carpio Opua, D. Cheucarama Membache, R. Ismare Peña and J. Velásquez Runk, in alphabetical order). 2019. Nemchaain Laraam, T'ʌnʌm K'aurtarrau (Getting to Know Birds in Puerto Lara). 

Equipo cultural wounaan (C. Carpio Opua, D. Cheucarama Membache, R. Ismare Peña and J. Velásquez Runk, in alphabetical order). 2018. Algunas aves en la cultura wounaan (Some birds in Wounaan culture).

Velásquez Runk, J. and C. Carpio Opua. 2018. The collaborative process in a Wounaan meu language documentation project.  In Shannon Bischoff and Carmen Jany, eds. Pp. 202-216. Insights from Practices in Community-Based Research: From Theory to Practice around the Globe. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Velásquez Runk, J. 2017. Crafting Wounaan Landscapes: Identity, Art, and Environmental Governance in Panama’s Darién. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Velásquez Runk, J. 2015. Creating wild Darién: Centuries of Darién’s imaginative geography and its lasting effects.  Journal of Latin American Geography 14(3): 127-156.

Velásquez Runk, J. 2014. Enriching indigenous knowledge scholarship via collaborative methodologies: Beyond the high tide’s few hours. Ecology and Society. 19(4): 37.

Proyecto Tradición Oral Wounaan (C. Carpio Opua, D. Cheucarama Membache, E. Lapovsky Kennedy, C. Membora Peña, T. Membora Peña, C. Peña Ismare, T. Peña Ismare, and J. Velásquez Runk, in alphabetical order). 2014. Tarjetas del alfabeto en wounaan meu (Alphabet cards in Wounaan meu).

Velásquez Runk, J. 2012. Indigenous land and environmental conflicts in Panama: Neoliberal multiculturalism, changing legislation, and human rights. Journal of Latin American Geography 11: 21-47

Velásquez Runk, J., M. Martínez Mauri, B. Quintero Sánchez, and J. Sarsaneda del Cid. 2011. Pueblos Indígenas en Panamá: Una Bibliografía. Panamá: Acción Cultural Ngöbe.

Velásquez Runk, J., G. Ortiz Negría, L. Peña Conquista, G. Mejía Peña, F. Peña Cheucarama, and Y. Cheucarama Chiripua. 2010. Landscapes, legibility, and conservation planning: Multiple representations of forest use in Panama. Conservation Letters 3: 167-176.

Velásquez Runk, J. 2009. Social and river networks for the trees: Wounaan’s riverine rhizomic cosmos and arboreal environmental conservation. American Anthropologist 111: 456-467.

Articles Featuring Julie Velásquez Runk
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - 3:38pm

The Adventures of Wounaan Children and Many Birds/ Wounaan chaain döhigaau nemchaain hoo wënʌʌrrajim/Los niños wounaan, en sus aventuras vieron muchas aves was recently published in three languages and focuses on the Wounaan, Indigenous people of…

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 1:24pm

The Spanish copy of Dr. Julie Velásquez Runk's ethnography, Los wounaan y la construcción de su paisaje: Identidad, arte y gobernanza ambiental en la frontera Panamá-Colombia launches tomorrow, October 6th.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:02pm

UGA Research article, "Pivoting during a pandemic: Fieldwork in the time of COVID" written by PhD student, Linda Kosen, features Dr. Julie Velásquez Runk and PhD student, David Hecht. The article discusses the obstacles and changes researchers have faced during…

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 8:46am

The University of Georgia has joined the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium to facilitate scholarly exchange and academic collaboration. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 9:10am

Vector-borne diseases—those transmitted by biting insects like mosquitoes and ticks—pose a significant health threat to more than half of the world’s population.

Events featuring Julie Velásquez Runk


On Tuesday, November 16 at 2pm The Wounaan Cultural Team is launching its new trilingual illustrated storybook, Wounaan döhigaau nemchaain hoo wënʌʌrrajim / Durante su aventura, los niños wounaan vieron muchas aves / The Adventures of Wounaan Children and Many Birds. The presentation is part of the Establishing Sustainable Community-…

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