Theodore Macdonald, Jr., PhD

Lecturer on Social Studies, Harvard University

Theodore Macdonald, Jr., is a lecturer in social studies at Harvard University, and was an affiliate of the university committee on human rights studies. He received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Illinois-Urbana. From 1979-1994 he was projects director for the international human rights NGO Cultural Survival and then associate director of the Program on Nonviolent Sanctions and Cultural Survival at Harvard's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs until 2005. His research and teaching focus on human rights, ethnicity and conflict, Latin America, indigenous peoples and the state, common property, land/natural resource disputes, and individual/collective property and citizenship rights. He co-edited, with David Maybury-Lewis, Manifest Destinies and Indigenous Peoples (DRCLAS/Harvard U. Press, 2009) and is currently preparing a reader titled The Anthropology of Human Security: Thinking and Practicing Human Rights (Blackwell).

From 1983-1987 Macdonald was an official observer during negotiations surrounding the armed conflict between Nicaragua's Miskito Indian organizations and its Sandinista government. He has worked directly on several high-profile indigenous/oil disputes in the Upper Amazon and, from 1996-2002, he directed the tripartite (indigenous organizations, environmental NGOs, and oil corporations) Harvard Dialogues on Oil in Fragile Environments. His 1997 ethnographic research qualified him as a witness for the community in the precedent-setting 2001 indigenous land and natural resource rights case, Awas Tingni vs. Nicaragua, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Recipient of the Hoopes Prize for Academic Excellence (2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010), and the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching (fall 2007, fall 2008), Macdonald also was a Knowles Scholar for Small-Group Instruction, 2009-2010, and was nominated for the Marquand Award for Exceptional Advising and Counseling (2010).


  • PhD University of Illinois, Urbana