Autumn’s ethnographic research with Q’eqchi’ Mayas in Guatemala considers the relationship between conflicts over control of their traditional territories, political participation, and social inclusion/exclusion, both during the armed conflict (1960-1996) and in current conflicts with extractive and agricultural businesses. Her research focuses on the material and paradigmatic origins of these conflicts by looking at competing conceptions of development, well-being, and social inclusion/exclusion held by Q’eqchi’s, the Guatemalan government, and transnational corporations. Autumn also relates these conflicts to Q’eqchi’s’ abilities to participate in formal and informal political processes in their communities, in relation to the Guatemalan state on a local and national level, and in the international arena.
Autumn’s Sociology courses take up social inequality on a local and global scale through critical social theory, as well as empirical accounts of lived experiences of inequality. Her teaching, like her research, prioritizes the perspectives and worldviews of indigenous peoples in advancing discussions on social justice. She teaches Sociology of Indigenous Peoples (SOCI 220), Social Inequality (SOCI 361), and Sociology and Natural Resources (SOCI 360).