Laura Primeau - Winner of the CALACS 2023 Graduate Essay Prize

About Laura Primeau

Laura is a doctoral candidate for the PhD in Political Science and the PhD Specialization in Political Economy at Carleton University. Her research interests include indigenous rights movements in Latin America, development studies, and postcolonial and decolonial theory. Her current project examines the socio-legal strategies of various Mayan groups in the South of Mexico in the context of the mega tourism project, the Mayan train. Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from York University, in addition to graduate diplomas from the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) and the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) based at York University. Aside from her academic work, Laura has been working with human rights and civil society organizations since 2015, including the Pueblos Étnicos y Paz – Red Global/Ethnic Peoples and Peace – Global Network, the Americas Policy Group (APG) and the Colombian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ontario. Laura received several prizes and recognitions for her research, including the Carl Jacobsen Peace Prize (2022), the Word Warrior Society Bursary Award (2023) and the Kanta Marwah Research Grant (2023).

Article: “Making Law, Making Worlds: Ontological Openings through Jurisgenesis in the Case of the Mayan Train in Mexico"

In this paper, Laura Primeau traces how indigenous communities navigate international human rights norms as part of territorial struggles. The author offers a nuanced account of how indigenous groups accept certain elements of national and international legal governance while rejecting others, creating new strategies to challenge the silencing of alternative ways of being and knowing. This highly original paper is well researched and clearly argued. It makes a valuable contribution on a timely issue that is prevalent across the Global South – environmental social conflicts generated by neoliberal megaprojects – by capturing the limitations inherent in Western notions of human rights for communities in resistance.