Visiting Student Researcher Spotlight: Marijke Bassani Takes a Stand for Indigenous Minorities

September 6, 2023

Marijke Bassani with face paint in front of colorful wall

Inspired by her personal experiences of navigating racism and discrimination, Marijke Bassani is focusing her academic research on cultivating a safe space for indigenous LGBTQIA+ communities. 

Marijke is an international human rights lawyer and a visiting scholar at the Center for Race & Gender in Berkeley. Completing an international cross-border PhD in Law, Marijke specializes in human rights relating to indigeneity, race, gender, and sexuality.

“I hope to help lead a vibrant future for Indigenous LGBTQI+2Spirit, IndigiQueer, Sistergirl, and Brotherboy people where we are finally able to shift from surviving to thriving, and are wholly embraced and valued by our communities, families, and the world for who we truly are,” said Marijke.

Marijke is from the Lamalama, Binthi Warra and Bulgun Warra tribes in Australia. But her biggest achievement hasn’t just been moving to another country by herself for the first time during a global pandemic! She often faced multidimensional discrimination within Australian academia and witnessed other indigenous and queer people go through similar situations. According to Marijke, this discrimination translates to cisgenderism, homophobia, queerphobia, and transphobia, resulting in sexual harassment, abuse, and cultural and community rejection. 

“The Bay Area’s reputation as a place where gender and sexuality diversity are not only accepted but celebrated, coupled with its history of being an indigenous rights activism and advocacy hub, made UC Berkeley the best place for my Ph.D. research journey!” she added. 

Now, Marijke’s lived experiences have developed into a passion to challenge and—at the very least—alleviate the oppressions faced by indigenous minorities. She is committed to cultivating safe spaces, communities, and legal frameworks that both recognize and protect the right of these minority groups to live and flourish as their most sacred authentic selves.