Ann-Elise Lewallen

Ann-Elise Lewallen
Associate Professor; Graduate Program Advisor
Pacific and Asian Studies
Office: CLE 213
Area of expertise

Transcultural Japan/Asia; Critical Indigenous Studies; Environmental Justice; Gender Studies


Ph.D, University of Michigan 
MA, University of Michigan

Research Interests

  • Transcultural Japan/Asia
  • Critical Indigenous Studies 
  • Environmental Justice 
  • Gender Studies 


Dr. ann-elise lewallen (she/her/hers) engages with Indigenous and frontline communities in Japan, India, and across Asia, who seek to strengthen their relationship with place through critical mapping, heritage practice, and environmental justice. Lewallen’s academic work focuses on critical Indigenous studies, settler colonialism, gender and embodiment, energy justice, and critical geographies in contemporary Japan, India, and the Asia-Pacific. Her work advocates for Indigenizing knowledge by centering practices such as Traditional Ecological Knowledge and community mapping as sites of knowledge production, toward more sustainable models of planetary health. To this end, she works to empower Indigenous and marginalized communities through co-learning new skillsets such as mapping and ethnographic practice, toward decolonizing research and transforming academic practice.
In her most recent book, The Fabric of Indigeneity: Ainu Identity, Gender and Settler Colonialism in Japan (School for Advanced Research Press and University of New Mexico Press, 2016), lewallen analyzes Indigenous Ainu women’s use of cultural production as an idiom of resistance against ongoing Japanese settler colonialism and for trans-generational cultural revival initiatives across the Ainu community. In the book, she explores how Ainu women forge identities to demonstrate cultural viability, by tracking their efforts to both produce and preserve material arts as a way of memorializing ancestors and recuperating self-worth. Ainu women’s strategies to reinscribe traditional gender-complementary labor, she argues, enable network-building with Indigenous women globally, while challenging feminist discourses favoring gender equity for all women. This book analyzes how Indigenous politics, practices, and identity formation are all profoundly shaped by social constructions of gender.

Lewallen’s current research investigates how discourses of science and politics shape development policy and impact Indigenous sovereignty in transnational relationships between India and Japan. For her second major book, Sovereign Bodies: Energy Colonialism and Defying the State in India and Japan, lewallen analyzes civil society movements targeting Japan’s technological diplomacy in India’s growing energy sector juxtaposed with Indigenous communities’ use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge to defend their land. She adopts an environmental justice framework to collaborate with Indigenous communities through cultural mapping techniques in order to resist eco-cultural degradation of land, water, and Indigenous Knowledge/s. 

Selected Publications

  • 2019 “Gendered Technologies of Resistance: Centering Ainu Women’s Responses to the Sexual Colonization of Ainu Mosir.” Critical Asian Studies, Edited by Tristan Grunow and Fuyubi Nakamura, October 3, 2019.
  • 2016 The Fabric of Indigeneity: Ainu Identity, Gender, and Settler Colonialism in Japan. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press; Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press (Global Indigenous Politics Series).

  • 2016 “ ‘Clamoring Blood’: The Materiality of Belonging in Modern Ainu Identity.” Critical Asian Studies, 48:1, 50-76.


PAAS 395: Intermediate Topics in Pacific and Asian Studies 
PAAS 342: Advanced Readings in Japanese II
PAAS 495: Advanced Topics in pacific and Asian Studies