Lieselotte Viaene

Principal Investigator

Lieselotte is Professor at the Department of Social Sciences of the University Carlos III de Madrid. She is a Belgian anthropologist with a PhD in Law (Ghent University, Belgium, 2011) which has a first academic degree in Criminology. Her professional path is marked by a combination of conducting innovative academic and applied research and working as a practitioner on complex and politically sensitive human rights issues such as transitional justice, legal pluralism, natural resources and territory, engaging directly with bridging theory-practice gaps from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Read more

Since her Master’s thesis in anthropology (2002), she has been collaborating with indigenous peoples in Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Colombia in diverse spaces. As human rights practitioner, she worked, among others, at the  Office of United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) in Ecuador (2010-2013) were she was responsible for the areas of collective rights and transitional justice.  Previously, she was Marie Curie Individual Fellow (2016-2018) at the Centre of Social Studies, University of Coimbra (Portugal). Lieselotte has published in English and Spanish in leading indexed international journals such as the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Critique of Anthropology, International Human Rights Journal, Netherlands Quartely of Human Rights, Antipoda- Revista deAntropologìa y Arquelogìa. Her latest book is Nilma Rahilal. Pueblos Indìgenas y justicia transicional: relfexiones antropologicas (2019, Universidad de Deusto,Spain).

Publications: Researchgate and


Mª Jesús Poza Lara

Financial project manager

More than 14 years working as a RESEARCH GROUP MANAGER at UC3M, taking care of the management of research projects, technology transfer, as well as the protection of intellectual property on the R&D results obtained, helping in the elaboration of the UC3M technological offer catalog, advising/supporting researchers in economic, fiscal and labor contracting issues, and collaborating in the technical follow-up reports. And more than 14 years working as an associate professor for several of the UC3M guarantee my knowledge of the functioning of the University.


Ana Paula García-Nieto

Project Manager

PhD in Ecology and entrepreneur in sustainability, Ana Paula García Nieto works on scientific projects on the relevance of nature and human beings’ interconnections, untangling the interrelationships between these spheres. Within the ERC RIVERS project hosted by the Carlos III University of Madrid, she focuses on the management and communication of the project. Her position implies planning and monitoring the project tasks, organization of national and international events, responsible for logistics, participation in team meetings, support for researchers, project reporting and project communication.


María Ximena González Serrano

 PhD researcher

María Ximena González-Serrano is a Predoctoral Researcher of the ERC RIVERS project linked to Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. She has a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and a Major in Environmental Law from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She worked for 15 years with Afro-descendant, indigenous and peasant communities in strategic litigation processes and socio-legal research in cases of defence of water, rivers and territories. Her academic interests are oriented to critical studies in the field of human and non-human rights, Extractivism, inter-legal translation and political processes of collective action in the transformation of Law.


Digno Montalbán Zambrano

Associate PhD researcher

Digno is an Ecuadorian lawyer and pre-doctoral researcher (FPI-MINECO) at the University Carlos III of Madrid. His areas of interest include rights of nature, ecocentrism, legal pluralism, intercultural interpretation and international courts of human rights. In RIVERS, as an associate researcher, his work is focused on the influence of the anthropocentrism and ecocentrism in the reasoning of the international courts of human rights. Specifically, in the framework of his doctoral thesis, he studies the argumentation about the relationship between the Rights of Nature and the Human Rights, present in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (this doctoral research work is framed within the project, “Judges in Democracy, the Political Philosophy of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights” leading by the professor Isabel Wences).

read more

He holds a Master’s degree in Constitutional Law from the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies of Spain and a Law degree from the University “Espíritu Santo” of Ecuador. He is a member of the UC3M research group on “law and justice” (grupo de investigación sobre el derecho y la justicia), part of the editorial board of the academic review “Eunomia. Revista en cultura de la legalidad” and co-coordinator of the UC3M workshop on law and justice. Professionally, he has worked in different positions in the public sector of Ecuador, among them, legal analyst of the judicial function of Ecuador and specialist in social rights of the Ombudsman’s Office of Ecuador. Among his main recognitions are: Post graduate scholar of the Carolina Foundation of Spain in 2015; Scholar of the service of doctrine of the Constitutional Court of Spain in 2017 and winner of the predoctoral contract for the formation of the investigative personnel granted by the Ministry of Economy and Company of Spain in 2018.

Full CV available from:

Local Research Team in Guatemala 2021-2022

Lieselotte Viaene and Maria Jacinta Xón Riquiac (Coordination)

Diego Antonio Padilla Vassaux (Universidad Rafael Landívar, Guatemala)

Santiago Bastos (CIESAS, México)

María Ximena González-Serrano (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain)

 Entering research 2021

Stella Terjung

Stella conducted a research internship at RIVERS ERC in autumn 2021. She is a Master‘s student of Human Rights Studies at Lund University, Sweden, with a research interest focusing on human-nature relationships, collective human rights and the rights of nature.

Read her post in RIVERS blog: RIVERS Behind the Scenes: Something with Rivers

Scientific advisory board (SAC)


Mario Blaser

Mario Blaser is an Associate professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He  is the author of Storytelling Globalization from the Paraguayan Chaco and Beyond (Duke University Press, 2010) and co-editor of A world of Many World (Duke University Press 2018);  Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for the Global Age (University of British Columbia Press, 2010) and In the Way of Development: Indigenous peoples, Life Projects and Globalization (Zed Books 2004). His current research examines the challenges of articulating heterogeneous life projects under the shadow of discussions on the Anthropocene and the Common.

Read more

Life projects embody ‘small stories’ about the good life and in this sense can be contrasted with the ‘big stories’ through which notions like Anthropocene and the Common tend to be associated. In effect, discussions around these two concepts tend to be haunted by the image of the Blue Planet as a totality that functions as the horizon of relevance for politics. Blaser’s research explores the proposal that life projects index other politics which opens new vistas to the problems both the Anthropocene and the Common discussions purport to address.

More info


Rachel Sieder

Rachel Sieder holds a PhD in Politics from the University of London. She is currently Senior Research Professor at the Center for Research and Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Mexico City. She is also an associate senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway, and associate fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London. She has been visiting professor and invited speaker at the universities of Amsterdam, Auckland Bergen, Berkeley, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cambridge, Harvard, Oslo, Oxford, Stanford and Los Andes (Colombia). Sieder has worked for the last three decades on Central America, and her research interests include human rights, indigenous rights, social movements, indigenous law, legal anthropology, the state and violence.

Read more

She has published 20 books and edited volumes, most recently with Karina Ansolabehere and Tatiana Alfonso, The Handbook of Law and Society in Latin America, Routledge (2019); Demanding Justice and Security: Indigenous Women and Legal Pluralities in Latin America. Rutgers University Press (2017). She is a member of the international editorial boards of the Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies (LACES), the European Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (ERLACS) and Perfíles Latinoamericanos.

Rutgerd Boelens

Rutgerd Boelens

Rutgerd Boelens is Professor ‘Water Governance and Social Justice’  at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and Professor ‘Political Ecology of Water in Latin America’ with CEDLA, University of Amsterdam. He also is Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of Peru and the Central University of Ecuador. He held the 2013-2014 Chair ‘Territorial Studies’ with the Mexican Science Foundation and COLSAN. He coordinated the international Water Law and Indigenous Rights alliance WALIR, and several large water governance and environmental justice research programs. Currently he directs the international Justicia Hídrica/Water Justice alliance (

Read more

His research focuses on political ecology, water rights, legal pluralism, water cultures and cultural politics, governmentality, hydrosocial territories, and social mobilization, mainly in Latin America and Spain. Among his latest books are: “Water Justice” (with Perreault & Vos, Cambridge University Press, 2018); “Water, Power and Identity. The Cultural Politics of Water in the Andes” (Routledge, 2015);  Agua y Ecología Política. El extractivismo en la agro-exportación, la minería y las hidroeléctricas en Latino América (with Yacoub & Duarte, AbyaYala, 2015); “Justicia Hídrica. Acumulación, Conflicto y Acción Social” (with Cremers & Zwarteveen, IEP-Lima, 2011);  “Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity” (with Getches & Guevara,  Earthscan, 2010/2012).

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

UN Special  Rapporteur on the  Rights of  Indigenous Peoples

Victoria is an indigenous leader from the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. She is a social development consultant, indigenous activist, civic leader, human rights expert, public servant, and an advocate of women’s rights in the Philippines. She was the former Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005‐2010). As an indigenous leader she got actively engaged in drafting and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

Read more

She is the founder and executive director of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education). Ms. Tauli‐Corpuz has founded and managed various NGOs involved in social awareness raising, climate change, the advancement of indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights. A member of the Kankana‐ey Igorot peoples, she was the chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She is an Expert for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and has served as the chairperson‐ rapporteur of the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations. She is also the indigenous and gender adviser of the Third World Network and a member of United Nations Development Programme Civil Society Organizations Advisory Committee.

External Ethics Advisor


Ainhoa Montoya

 Ethical Advisor

Ainhoa Montoya is Director of the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and Senior Lecturer at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is the author of The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Post-War El Salvador (Palgrave, 2018). Her research has been funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. She is currently working on a British Academy-funded project which explores the political-legal strategies of environmental and human rights defenders who oppose mineral extraction in Central America and Mexico, focusing specifically on the moralities, ontologies and forms of knowledge that they bring to these strategies. The project includes the development of The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil Database. Ainhoa is a co-editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research (BLAR), the journal of the Society for Latin American Studies.