Robert L. A. Hancock

Robert L. A.  Hancock
Adjunct Assistant Professor


Office: First Peoples House - Room 143

PhD UVic

Area of expertise

Socio-cultural anthropology; history and historiography of anthropology; anthropological theory; Indigenous–state relations; northern North America

Tanshi! I am Cree-Metis from Treaty 8 territory on my mother’s side, and English on my father’s, although I was born and raised, and am grateful to be living and working, on Lkwungen 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 in which 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 research crosses disciplinary boundaries, and I am most comfortable now thinking of myself as working in the discipline of Indigenous Studies. In particular, my recent work has 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 am currently LE,NONET Academic Coordinator in the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement at UVic, where I co-teach a research and community engagement methods seminar for Indigenous graduate and undergraduate students and support students in developing research apprenticeship placements with faculty on campus.


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


Fall 2018

  • Not teaching in the Anthropology Department

Spring 2019


Franz Boas Papers

The Franz Boas Papers: Documentary Edition is a multi-year SSHRC Partnership Grant project reassessing the legacy of Boas’s work, particularly as it pertains to Canada. I am currently working on an examination of Indigenous applications of Boas’s work on the North Pacific Coast.

As well, under the direction of the Chair, Dr. Susan Hill (Mohawk; University of Toronto), I am serving as the Co-Convener of the project’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

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 wahkootowin, and the issue of diaspora. 

Anthropology and Aboriginal 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 working on a monograph examining the discipline’s role in emerging Aboriginal rights discourses in Canada before 1982.



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

Articles and chapters

  • 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, ed. by Jeannine Carriere and Catherine Richardson. Vernon, BC: J. Charlton Publishing, 9-30.
  • 2016 - Donna Feir and R. L. A. Hancock, “Answering the Call: A Guide to Reconciliation for Quantitative Social Scientists,” Canadian Public Policy 42(3), 338-353. doi:10.3138/cpp.2016-018

  • 2015 - “Franz Boas, Wilson Duff, and the Image of Anthropology on the North Pacific Coast,” in Franz Boas as Public Intellectual: Ethnography, Theory, Activism, ed. by Regna Darnell, Michelle A. Hamilton, R. L. A. Hancock, and Joshua Smith. The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 237-261. 

  • 2014 - “Metis (Amerindian),” in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought, ed. by Michael T. Gibbons. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2361.

  • 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, 192-216. doi:10.1353/haa.2011.0005

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

  • 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. doi:10.1353/haa.0.0019

  • 2006 - “Toward a Historiography of Canadian Anthropology,” in Historicizing Canadian Anthropology, ed. by Julia Harrison and Regna Darnell. Vancouver: UBC Press, 30-40.

  • 2001 - The Hop Yards: Workplace and Social Space. In The Stó:lô-Coast Salish
    Historical Atlas, ed. by Keith Thor Carlson. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 70-71.