Atheena Arasoo ‘20 social, humanitarian, and cultural committee

Atheena Arasoo ‘20
social, humanitarian, and cultural committee


Atheena Arasoo

What are you doing at Harvard? Hi! I am currently in my last year at Harvard College, finishing my degree in Social Studies with a focus on “Pacific Studies: Indigeneity, Migration, and Empire.” My studies are highly influenced by my background growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and then moving to the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi at the age of eleven.

Describe your ideal Saturday. This would be a combination of having brunch at a trendy new spot, relaxing on a beach at home, and chasing the best view of the sunset to top off the evening. 

Do you even MUN, bro? I have loved my WorldMUN experiences in Panamá and Madrid from both a secretariat and chair perspective. I also serve as the Director General of HNMUN Latin America, which is happening in México for January 2020. I am so grateful for the community I have met through MUN both at Harvard and around the world, and I look forward to reconnecting in committee and on the dance floor in the Spring!

Topic: Preserving Indigenous Knowledge and Culture

This committee will focus on the importance of preserving different forms of indigenous knowledge and culture. By centering on indigenous perspectives, this committee will provide a global platform for issues and communities that are too often marginalized. We will discuss ways of promoting the incorporation of traditional knowledge in the structures built for and by indigenous people. Our discussion will also highlight the significance of traditional knowledge in addressing wider issues for all people such as environmental changes through sustainable living. While indigeneity is based on continuity and an attachment to the land, it is not stagnant or stuck in the past -- indigenous forms of knowing are methods by which people can interpret and adapt to the present. From building their own justice systems to continuing fishing traditions, indigenous peoples across the world have found ways to perpetuate their ways of life. At the same time, challenges include a lack of resources, displacement from land, industrialization, and barriers to education. How can indigenous knowledge be revived, preserved, and transmitted? What forms of education can best promote traditional understanding? What role do non-indigenous communities have in this process, and what are their stakes in supporting or oppressing indigenous communities? As the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee, we will look for best practices to promote the rights of indigenous peoples with regards to knowledge and culture, as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and encourage understanding across communities to see the value of traditional knowledge for the world at large.