Ulia Gosart: Advocating for Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Recordkeeping

UCLA IS lecturer organizes discussion at UN on Free Prior Informed Consent to protect rights of indigenous communities.

The UCLA Department of Information Studies hosted a discussion at the 17th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 20 at UN Headquarters in New York City. Organized by IS lecturer and UCLA alumna Ulia Gosart (’13, Ph.D., Information Studies), the talk was focused on the theme of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), with panelists stressing the significance of FPIC to reforming relationships between indigenous communities and external actors.

Gosart shared the work of her students from her “Protection of Traditional Knowledge” class, on practices of successful and partnerships between archives, museums, universities, and indigenous communities as examples of how FPIC norms are becoming a reality.

“Free Prior Informed Consent is literally an invitation to revise and redress a history of unequal power relationship preserved through records, museum exhibitions, and practices of managing collective memory by institutions,” said Gosart. “As a rule, these institutions are funded by the state governments and function to support the state. Records are forms and means of representation of those about whom they speak. Indigenous communities must have a right not only to revise how their pasts and present are constructed for the rest of the world, but regulate these processes.”

Gosart stressed that right to consent must also be respected when it comes to archival documents about indigenous communities and indigenous intellectual and cultural heritage currently held at museums and libraries.

This work also features as a part of the recent Research and Inquiry Conference at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

Gosart’s research interests include international policy development in protection of traditional knowledge, and the implications of indigenous advocacy on international policy making and on the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation. Her advocacy experience includes serving as a U.N. representative for a Russian human rights organization.


Above: UCLA IS lecturer Ulia Gosart (at center), presented a discussion at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 20 at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. In addition, Gosart organized a tour of the U.N. Dag Hammarskjöld Library for students in the Stanford Online High School program. She serves as a mentor for the OHS Human Rights Club.

Photo by  Zvi Muscal