Towards the conquest of self-determination

Cover of the IWGIA Barbados + 50 book
Publisher: IWGIA
Author: Alberto Chirif
Number of pages: 416
ISBN number: 978-87-93961-19-7
Publication language: English
Region publication is about: Latin America
Release year: 2021

Tags: Global governance, Human rights, Autonomy , International Processes

50 years since the Barbados Declaration

This year, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting held on the Caribbean island of Barbados, where a group of 15 anthropologists (14 men and 1 woman) from Amazonian, Central American and European countries met to reflect on the situation of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. The symposium, organized by the University of Berne’s Institute of Anthropology in coordination with the Geneva-based World Council of Churches’ Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), was held at the University of the West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados.


This book was first published in Spanish in January of this year. This English edition contains the same articles, the only difference being the addition of an interview with Aqqaluk Lynge, leader of the Inuit people of Greenland, conducted by Jens Dahl and Alejandro Parellada.


The Barbados meeting was preceded by international accusations against the governments of Brazil and Paraguay that they were promoting and implementing genocidal plans against Indigenous peoples with the aim of clearing areas so that they could be handed over to transnational corporations. This was the topic of one of the thematic break-out groups at the 39th International Congress of Americanists, held in Lima in 1970. It was in this context that a group of participants, mainly anthropologists, agreed to hold the Barbados symposium a year later.


The participants in the meeting presented reports on violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples in their countries, specifically: Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. At the end of the meeting, they signed an historic declaration, “For the Liberation of the Indigenous People”, in which they harshly criticized governments, the Catholic and Evangelical churches and the anthropological trend that sees Indigenous peoples merely as objects of study and refuses to recognize the problems that affect them or, when they do recognize them, limits itself to rhetorical denunciations without any commitment to a resolution.

Alberto Chirif is the editor of the book and the authors are Esteban Mosonyi, Georg Grünberg, Stefano Varese, Miguel Alberto Bartolomé, Scott Robinson, Víctor Daniel Bonilla, Natalio Hernández Xocoyotzin, Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo y Dulce Patricia Torres Sandoval, Alicia Barabas, Pedro García Hierro,  Zulema Lehm Ardaya y Kantuta Isabel Lara Delgado, João Pacheco de Oliveira, Richard Chase Smith, Rodrigo Villagra Carron, Thomas Moore, Silvel Elías, Frederica Barclay, Søren Hvalkof,  Alejandro Parellada and Espen Waehle.  

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

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