Robert L.A. Hancock

Robert L.A. Hancock
Assistant Professor and IACE Associate Director Academic

Accepting MA/PhD students

Office: FPH 143

PhD UVic

Area of expertise

Indigenous–state relations, Metis studies, Indigenous anthropology, history of anthropology, Indigenous education, Indigenous Studies

Tanshi! I am Cree-Metis from Treaty 8 territory on my mother’s side, and English Canadian on my father’s, although I was born and raised, and am grateful to be living and working, on Lək̓ʷəŋən territory.

My research and teaching interests fall in a couple of distinct but related areas: 1) the relationships between Indigenous peoples and the state, particularly in northern North America; and 2) the representations of Indigenous peoples in the social sciences, primarily but not exclusively within anthropology. My research focuses simultaneously on the discipline’s past and on the ways that understandings of that past have been and continue to be constructed and used by current practitioners. I am interested in the contexts from which anthropological research and theory have emerged, and in the uses to which they have been put beyond the discipline (in fields such as Indigenous Studies and Indigenous education).

While grounded in my training in anthropology and history, my work crosses disciplinary boundaries, and I have done a considerable amount of research and teaching in Indigenous Studies. In particular, my recent projects have been focused on Indigenous engagements with anthropology and anthropologists, and considering the impacts that the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities have had on anthropological theory and practice. I have presented my research in a wide range of settings, including the annual conferences of the American Anthropological Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and the Canadian Anthropology Society.

I am excited to work with graduate students whose research interests intersect with my own.

I am currently the Associate Director Academic in the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement at UVic. My responsibilities there include co-teaching a research and community engagement methods seminar for Indigenous graduate and undergraduate students. As part of this role, I have brought an anthropological perspective to the development of the field of Indigenous Student Affairs and published and presented on a number of topics related to decolonizing and Indigenizing professional practice and administrative structures in post-secondary institutions.


  • Indigenous–state relations
  • Metis studies
  • Indigenous anthropology and anthropologists
  • History and historiography of anthropology and anthropological theory
  • Indigenous education and pedagogy (post-secondary)
  • Indigenous Studies


Fall 2023/Spring 2024

  • Not teaching


Anthropology and Indigenous Studies

I have begun research on the influence of anthropology and anthropologists on the formation of Indigenous Studies as a discipline, with a particular focus on the work of Bob Thomas (Cherokee) and Bea Medicine (Lakota).

Metis Studies

In response to calls from family and community members, and to invitations from colleagues, I have been working on a series of papers exploring the question of Metis identity, the value of wahkohtowin, and the issue of diaspora.

Anthropology and Indigenous Rights

Emerging from my dissertation research on anthropological representations of Indigenous peoples in Canadian courts and tribunals in the 1960s and 1970s, I have been examining the discipline’s role in emerging Aboriginal rights discourses in Canada before 1982.


Edited Collections

In progress. Ry Moran, Carey Newman, Shelagh Rogers, Andrea Walsh, and R. L. A. Hancock, guest editors. “Special Issue: Indigenous Knowledges.” KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies (expected Winter 2021).

2015. Regna Darnell, Michelle A. Hamilton, R. L. A. Hancock, and Joshua Smith, editors. Franz Boas as Public Intellectual: Ethnography, Theory, Activism. Franz Boas Papers, volume 1. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, xxvi+382pp

Journal Articles

2016. Donna Feir and R. L. A. Hancock, “Answering the Call: A Guide to Reconciliation for Quantitative Social Scientists.” Canadian Public Policy 42 (3): 338–53.

2012. Adam Gaudry and R. L. A. Hancock. “Envisioning Métis Pedagogies in Post-Secondary Settings.” Canadian Journal of Native Education 35 (1): 7–22.

2011. “Eric Wolf and the Structural Power of Theory.” Histories of Anthropology Annual 7: 92–216.

2008. Jonathan Peyton and R. L. A. Hancock. “Anthropology, State Formation, and Hegemonic Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, 1910-1939.” Native Studies Review 17 (1): 45–69.

2006. “Diamond Jenness’s Arctic Ethnography and the Potential for a Canadian Anthropology.” Histories of Anthropology Annual 2: 155–211.

Book Chapters

Forthcoming. “The Power of Peoplehood: Reimagining Metis Relationships, Research, and Responsibilities.” In A People and a Nation: New Directions in Contemporary Métis Studies, edited by Jennifer Adese and Chris Andersen. Vancouver: UBC Press (expected Spring 2021).

2019. “‘Let’s do better next time’: Vine Deloria, Jr.’s Ongoing Engagement with Anthropology.” In Disruptive Voices and the Singularity of Histories, edited by Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach, 353–365. Histories of Anthropology Annual, volume 13. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

2017. “‘We Know Who Our Relatives Are’: Métis Identities in Historical, Political, and Legal Contexts.” In Calling Our Families Home: Métis Peoples’ Experiences with Child Welfare, edited by Jeannine Carrière and Catherine Richardson, 9–30. Vernon, BC: JCharlton Publishing.

2015. “Franz Boas, Wilson Duff, and the Image of Anthropology on the North Pacific Coast.” In Franz Boas as Public Intellectual: Ethnography, Theory, Activism, edited by Regna Darnell, Michelle A. Hamilton, Robert L. A. Hancock, and Joshua Smith, 237–61. Franz Boas Papers, volume 1. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

2008. “Afterword: Reconceptualising Anthropology’s Historiography.” In Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War: The Influence of Foundations, McCarthyism, and the CIA, edited by Dustin Wax, 166–178. London: Pluto.

2006. “Toward a Historiography of Canadian Anthropology.” In Historicizing Canadian Anthropology, edited by Julia Harrison and Regna Darnell, 30–40. Vancouver: UBC Press.