10 Hypothesis
  Prelim. Results


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1) The main objective of the project consists in the elaboration of a concept of Multicultural Autonomy as an alternative socio-economic and political framework to the centralized Nation-States on the base of cultural identities. Taking those indigenous areas of Central and South America as examples where the autonomy-processes have created, during the past two decades, a political and socio-economic base for a sustainable development, the project should analyse and evaluate the efforts of policy makers in the Community Based Organisations (CBOs) as well as in governmental and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to create a new framework for the development of civil societies.

2) Therefore the first scientific objective of this project will be the research, analysis and evaluation of the concepts and practices of indigenous societies in six of the principle areas of Latin America:

  • Chiapas, Mexico, where the Zapatista movement is leading an important struggle for municipal autonomy;
  • the RAAN (Región Autónoma del Atlantico Norte), Nicaragua, where the political and economic life of a whole region is geared by the Estatuto de Autonomía of 1986;
  • the Kuna-area of San Blas, Panama which was the first area where the idea of multicultural autonomy has been put into practice, especially in the field of multilingual education;
  • the experience of the indigenous people in Venezuela where a new constitution in January 2000 has lead to a broad discussion inside and outside the indigenous communities.
  • the region of Alto Rio Negro, Brazil, which has been officially declared Territorio dos Indios in 1998 as a result of an alliance of over thirty different indigenous people;
  • the Sierra of Ecuador where the Confederación Nacional de Organizaciónes Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) has achieved a high degree of territorial autonomy struggling at present for the constitution of a multiethnic and pluricultural State;
  • the Chapare-Region in Bolivia where the Indian based multiethnic Cocalero-movement is struggling for the control of municipalities within the framework of the new Law of Peoples Participation (Ley de Participación Popular).

Starting with this comparative socio-anthropological, economic, politological, ecological and juridical analysis of the autonomy concepts and multicultural experiences of the indigenous communities and movements the interdisciplinary research will eventually lead to an operational data-base which allows to draw measurable conclusions on:

  • conflict-solution,
  • land-ownership,
  • community and institution building, and
  • interactive learning processes,
based on a specific cultural identity. In this research a particular emphasis will be given to the question whether the process of local and regional autonomy has brought about an increment of sustainable development whose indicators and criteria for verification will be taken from the particular UN-documentation elaborated by the Commission for Sustainable Development (CDS) and the ongoing project within the Fifth Framework Programme AMAZONIA 21.

3) In order to make the criteria comparable with each other and applicable to non indigenous civil societies in and outside of Latin America the project contemplates also an intensive discussion process among the participating scientists who will eventually elaborate operative guide-lines - Reference Guide for Multicultural Autonomies - that can be used as well by indigenous as by non-indigenous civil societies. In this discussion process, implemented partly through the new electronic media and partly through personal meetings, seminars and conferences, there are going to participate also experts from other European countries e.g. from Spain, but also from Russia, where the war in the Caucasus and the tensions around the Russian population in Estonia will be taken as an example for the possibility of conflict-solution through the implementation of the above mentioned guidelines.

4) The project finally suggests concrete options for European policy-decisions elaborating new strategies for international cooperation and, last but not least,

5) It represents a common effort to strengthen the links within the international scientific community though the fact, that six Latin American, four European and one Russian scientific institutions of renowned capacity are going to be actively involved in it.