Ian Khara Ellasante
About Ian Khara Ellasante
Ian Khara Ellasante is a doctoral candidate in American Indian Studies with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. In his scholarship, he engages the Indigenous peoplehood matrix, a core theoretical construct developed by Indigenous scholars and comprised of four interrelated elements: land, language, sacred history, and ceremonial cycle. In his dissertation, “‘We Are This People and We Intend to Endure As Such’: Black and Indigenous Peoplehood and Persistence,” he employs the peoplehood matrix to delineate Indigenous cultural identity and suggests a parallel model of African American peoplehood. He demonstrates that, in both models, the interconnectedness of the elements of peoplehood establishes and maintains persistent cultural identity, particularly within the milieu of settler colonialism.
In addition to this fulfilling scholarship, Ian also enjoys hiking, making art, and composing poetry. In his poems, which have been shared with audiences around the country and have appeared in several publications, Ian often explores the polyphonic intersection of his identities as a queer- and trans-identified person of African American and Indigenous descent as well as his relationship with his heritage and homelands.
Ian has worked as a researcher-advocate for unstably-housed LGBTQ and Two Spirit young people in a number of roles, with the goal of increasing access to the kinds of relevant and affirming opportunities for queer and trans People of Color and LGBTQ youth that he could not often find in his hometown of Memphis. Ian began this work in 2008 at Arizona’s first drop-in center for LGBTQ youth before accepting a position with the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA-SIROW), where he served until 2016. Ian is also a proud recipient of the Point Scholarship, having been awarded in 2016 as a Calamus Point Scholar. Currently, Ian is the Visiting Scholar and Artist in Residence at Washington & Jefferson College, teaching a course he designed titled “Gender in Native American Literature.”
2016: iTEAM: Outcomes of an affirming system of care serving LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Journal of Contemporary Social Services Families in Society, Vol. 97(3), 181-190. (with Powell, C., Korchmaros, J.D., Haverly, K., & Stevens, S.)
Areas of Study
African Diasporic and Native American cultural exchange
Settler colonial studies
Poetry and poetics
American Indian cultures and literatures
African American cultures and literatures
LGBTQ and Two Spirit health and wellness
Black and Indigenous feminisms
Community-based participatory research
Critical Indigenous research methodologies
Ph.D., American Indian Studies, University of Arizona, in Progress
Ph.D. Minor: Gender and Women's Studies
Doctoral Certificate, College Level Teaching, University of Arizona, 2014
M.A., American Indian Studies, University of Arizona, 2013
Thesis: "Bridges Between Me: Alienation, Liminality, and Re/Integration in American Indian Literature"
B.A., University of Memphis, 2005
Majors: Sociology and English
Minors: Spanish and Biology