Mayo Buenafe-Ze

Mayo Buenafe-Ze

Assistant Professor

Program Director • Full-Time Faculty

Kalmanovitz 233


Mayo Buenafe-Ze is a bilingual immigrant and multi-ethnic indigenous Filipina who has lived most of her life between the Philippines and California. She is a scholar/educator/researcher, food and cultural events experience curator, and community organizer who aims to decolonize education and support youth leadership and development.

Since 2007, she has been in research and academia in the Philippines, Netherlands, and the U.S. She has done ethnographic studies with the Ifugao peoples from the Cordillera Region (Northern Luzon, Philippines), the Omaha Tribe (specifically at the Omaha reservation in Macy, Nebraska), and the Agta hunter-gatherers of Isabela Province (Northeastern Luzon, Philippines). Her research interests utilize a decolonial framework to highlight how indigenous communities protect and manage their sacred properties, uphold food and water sovereignty, and evolve their indigenous knowledge systems. She considers it her personal responsibility and objective to facilitate knowledge sharing which centers indigenous knowledge and serves communities first.

Co-Director, Cultural Anthropology Program
Research Affiliate, Cultural Anthropology Program, Sociology Department, University of San Francisco, 2015-2016
Leiden University (the Netherlands), PhD (ABD) in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, 2021
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MA in Anthropology (Specialization: International Human Rights and Diversity), 2012
University of the Philippines - Baguio, BA in Social Sciences (Major in Social Anthropology; Minor in Political Science), cum laude, 2007
Board Member, Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES), San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Program Manager and Director, The Cooking Project, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Summer Instructor in Composition and Literature, Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC) for Upward Bound College Access Summer Program, San Francisco, CA
University Instructor and Field School Organizer in Social Anthropology and Political Science, College of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines-Baguio, Philippines
Decolonization methodologies
Indigenous knowledge systems
Food and water sovereignty
International human rights and diversity
Legal pluralism and sacred properties
Selected Publications

“Water As A Threat: Rebuilding After Super Typhoon Megi in the Northeastern Philippines”, Buenafe-Ze, M. & Telan, W. G. in UAS: Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development - special double issue: “Indigenous Community Control of Social and Economic Development in the Philippines.” (Vol. 47, No. 1-2; Spring-Summer 2018) (ISSN-e2328-1022; ISSN 0894-6019)

Against Mining and Needing Mining: Conundrums of the Agta from Northeastern Luzon” – article published in Journal for Development Policies (Journal für Entwicklungspolitik), (Issue 4, 2016) Title of Issue: Hunters and Gatherers in an Industrial World, Khaled Hakami & Gertrude Saxinger, Editors. Mattersburger Kreis für Entwicklungspolitik, Sensengasse 3, Vienna, Austria 1090 

A Social Inquiry on Theory in American Archaeology Through the Lens of a Non-American Cultural Anthropologist,” - Nebraska Anthropologist, Vol. 27: 2012: pp. 96-111 – Paper Published 2 April 2012

The Legal Pluralism Phenomenon: Emerging Issues on Protecting and Preserving the Sacred Ifugao Bulul,” Nebraska Anthropologist Volume 26: 2011: pp. 127-146- Paper Published 31 March 2011

Awards & Distinctions

University of San Francisco Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award, 2018-2019

Louwes Fellowship, Leiden University (the Netherlands), 2012

McGinnis Graduate Student Award – Best Graduate Paper (Nebraska Academy of Sciences), 2011

Summer Research Fellowship, Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2011

Fulbright Scholar, Philippine–American Educational Foundation, 2009