10 Hypothesis
  Prelim. Results


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The Phase of Field Research 1 came to an end with the realization of the First Evaluation Seminar held in Managua, Nicaragua in February 2003, where in intense cooperation among the participants the final results of the different reports (Data Base) and the evaluation procedures of Field Research 1 to be applied in the future were as much discussed as Work package 3 for the realisation of Field Research Phase 2. Managua was also the start for the realisation of a documentary video with broadcast quality which eventually will disseminate, together with the editing of a book the results of this ongoing project.

Background information on partners

Participant number 1:
Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Contemporary Research on Latin America - LBICRLA (Vienna, Austria)
Laudongasse 40
A-1080 Wien
Tel.: (43-1)405 55 15-305
Fax: (43-1)405 55 19

The coordination of the project is going to be assumed by the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Contemporary Research on Latin America (LBICRLA) in Vienna, Austria. Constituted in 1985 it has accumulated most of its scientific experience in counselling Latin American universities (Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia) and grass-roots-organisations (NGOs and CBOs) in the field of political science, political anthropology and foreign politics.

Its scientific director, Leo Gabriel, has spent 30 years in Latin America (above all in Mexico, Central America and Brazil) as a social scientist, journalist, project coordinator and filmmaker. He has been in charge of a rather big research project from 1991 to 1995 on behalf of the Austrian Academy of Sciences on the politics of peasant cultures in Central America.

Apart from the project administration (WP 6) the LBCRLA will also assume to be the lead contractor in WP 1 (initiation and methodology) and WP 5 (dissemination of results). Its main scientific competence lies within the field of Political Science and Political Anthropology. Furthermore the LBICLA is going to assume the responsibility of subcontracting the Institute of Europe from the Russian Academy of Sciences for the tasks in WP 5.

Participant number 2
Institute for Law and Religion - ILR (Vienna, Austria)
Freyung 6 / Stiege 2 / Tür 4
1010 Wien
Tel.: (43-1)427735715
Fax. : (43-1)42779357

The Working Group on Legal Anthropology of the Institute for Law and Religion of the University of Vienna, Austria, has shown its competence above all in the field of constitutional law with regard to indigenous societies in Latin America. The Working Group has already directed an ALFA - Project with 3 European and 4 Latin American universities on the legal conditions of sustainable development and biodiversity among indigenous peoples.

The main focus of the Institute´s scientific work lies within the field of the relationship between legal systems and human cultures, focussing on:

  • The universality of human rights and the particularity of cultures,
  • Legal aspects of Muslim (mostly immigrant) populations in countries with Western-oriented legal traditions,
  • Theoretical issues of legal pluralism,
  • The rights of indigenous peoples.

One of the Institute's outstanding members is Dr. René Kuppe, the leading Austrian expert of normative multiculturalism and multicultural constitutions, who furthermore is member of the Commission of Folk Law and Legal Pluralism of IUAES. As such he recently has been invited to integrate the constitutional assembly of Venezuela as an adviser. One of his tasks in the project will be to plot the possibilities of Roman based law systems viz. Anglo - Saxon law systems to find the optimum level of state decentralisation and autonomy.

Although the Institute for Law and Religion is not a lead contractor in any of the 6 tasks, its expertise will be of utmost importance in each of them.

Participant number 3
Tricontinental Center - CETRI (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
Avenue Sainte Gertrude 5
1348 Ottignies - Louvain - La - Neuve
Tel. : (32-10) 450822
Fax.: (32-10) 453152

The "Centre Tricontinental" (CETRI) in Louvain-la Neuve, Belgium, is one of the most renowned European social science research centres in Third World issues. Although it covers a wide, interdisciplinary range of social sciences, its main competence lies within the field of economy, especially on the municipal level and the sociology of religion.

The Tricontinental Center has been founded as an non-profit organization in 1976, as a documentation, publication and research center on Asian, African and Latin American affairs. It disposes of a documentation center with more than 500 journals. Since 1994 it publishes the JOURNAL ALTERNATIVES SUD, publishing only articles from authors coming from the South. Its research works have been realised in the above mentioned 3 continents, especially in Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Cape Verde, Nicaragua and Haiti.

The research work has been centred in sociology of developing countries and the social dimensions of economy as well as sociology of culture and of religions. It has participated as a counsellor in various researches on decentralization in Central America and has published 2 issues of ALTERNATIVES SUD, one on Local powers and decentralization and the other one on "The autonomous peoples in the Third World."


  1. Its present director, François Houtart holds an PhD. in Sociology (Université Catholique de Louvain), graduated in City Planning (Brussels) and postgraduate studies at the University of Chicago; He is the director of CETRI responsable for research and teaching in those 3 continents.
  2. Bernard Duterme, Lic. in Sociology (Université Catholique de Louvain), researcher throughout 3 years at the Center of Socio-Cultural Analysis at the UCA (University of Central America) of Managua.
  3. Benito Martinez, Lic. in History (Cuba) and postgraduate studies in Sociology (Université Catholique de Louvain).

Participant number 4
Institute of Ethnology - ESZ (Zurich, Switzerland)
Freiensteinstrasse 5
8032 Zurich
Tel.: (41-1) 3613214
Fax.: (41-1) 6344909

The Ethnologische Seminar (Institute of Ethnology) of the University of Zurich, Switzerland is one of Europe's leading schools for socio-anthropological studies in the Germam effort to create academic curricula of social anthropologists.

One of its outstanding members is Dr. Bernhard Albrecht who has developed, throughout the 90ies, a methodology of research following the patterns of ethnopsychoanalysis. Therefore his main contribution will be the exploration of the subjective factors of ethnicity and cultural identity as outlined in WP 3 where the CID is going to play the role of a lead contractor.

Another researcher who is going to participate in the project is Dr. Elena Lazos, a Mexican born and educated expert in the culture/nature interface research. On the crossroad between cultural systems and environment she directed several projects including ethnopedagogy and will therefore cooperate with participant 5 in mobilising local knowledge bases.

The long research experience of CID within the framework of the Ethnological Institute, particularly in Mexico and Central America makes it a necessary compliment to the scientific approach of systems analysis.

Participant number 5
Institute of Ethnology - IE-FU (Berlin, Germany) Drosselweg 1-3
14195 Berlin
Tel.: (49-30) 83856725
Fax.: (49-30) 83856728

The "Institute für Ethnologie" (Institute for Ethnology) of the Free University (FU) in Berlin has put in their research a particular emphasis on culture and development. Recently it is running some projects on development cooperation´s operation research, financed by the Volkswagen foundation and other economically oriented institutions. Thus it focuses on the specific cultural components and on culturally independent components of the socio-economic life of ethnic groups under the rule of nation states. By this approach the IE-FU compares several ethnic conflicts across the world. And has institutional links to the GTZ (the German agency for development cooperation) and to pedagogy, expanding it to ethnopedagogy.

On the socio-economic field this institute offers expertise not only on "cultural obstacles" for sustainable development, but also on the analysis of regional societies and multicultural networks. As such the institute has developed a methodology of intercultural pedagogy including the use of the new media in underdeveloped societies.

Within the project the IE-FU is the anthropological counterpart for participant Nr. 8´s expertise on information economy and information ecology to the new results of cybernetics.

The chief in charge for development operation research is Prof. Georg Elwert (1947) who has a wide range of publications concerning nearly all relevant topics such as:

Erdmute Alber, a close collaborator of Prof. Georg Elwert has a profound experience with scientific craftsmanship concerning the principal aims of the project as she worked empirically on the relations between ethnic communities and the state in Africa and Latin America, publishing her work papers in journals such as PAIDEUMA, AFRICA SPECTRUM and SOCIOLOGUS.

The Institute for Ethnology of Berlin is going to counsel the field research during the whole period (FR 1, FR 2) and is going to be of a great help in the elaboration WP 4, since its expertise on the main subject of this project reaches out to other continents, particularly Africa and Central Asia.

Participant number 6
Metropolitan University of Iztapalapa - UAM (Mexico-City) Department of Anthropology
Michoacan y la Purisima - Iztapalapa
09340 México D. F.
Tel.: (52-5) 8044763
Fax.: (52-5) 8044767

The Department of Anthropology of the Metropolitan University in Itztapalapa (UAM-Iztapalapa) in Mexico-City is known above all for the quality of its researchers, many of whom are working within the National Research System (Sistema Nacional de Investigaciones) on political and economic issues.

On the other hand the UAM works closely together with the regional universities, such as the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Chiapas which will be involved directly in the execution of the field research in Chiapas under the Direction of Profa. Alicia Castellanos Guerrero, an anthropologist of large and impressive experience.

Due to her extensive anthropological fieldwork (concerning cultural identity and multicultural autonomy issues) she has the key to a wide range of indigenous communities thus giving way to anthropological fieldworks within the project realisation.

Complementary to the research work in Chiapas and Oaxaca (both of them under scientific coordination of Alicia Castellanos Guerrero) itself the UAM-Iztapalapa is going to hire an outstanding expert on the political situation of the indigenous peoples in Mexico: Gilberto López y Rivas, who is not only a renown anthropologist himself, but also a prominent politician having directed for years the parliamentary commission for the mediation in the Chiapas - conflict (Mediation COCOPA).
In the scientific field he did research work on the "clash of civilizations" i.e. the problem of local cultural coherence of indigenous communities when faced with the effects of globalisation. In addition to this he is an expert concerning the particular political problems of an ideologically monocultural state confronted with a multicultural civil society. Therefore he is the central figure for investigations in the optimal interplay between the normative conditions of citizenship and the realities of a multicultural society.

In his analysis for the project Gilberto López y Rivas is going to be complemented by Alicia Castellanos Guerrero, the head of the Economic Research Department of the UAM Iztapalapa.

Although the UAM-Iztapalapa is not a lead contractor in any of the WPs, the result of its research and analysis will be one of the most important scientific backbones of the entire project.

Participant number 7
Universidad Autonoma de Managua - UNAM (Managua, Nicaragua)
Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación y Humanidades
Programa de Antropología
Postbox: 663 - Managua, Nicaragua
Recinto Universitario "Rubén Darío", UNAN-Managua
(Rotonda Universitaria 1 km al sur)
Managua - Nicaragua
Tel.: (505) 2786774
Fax.: (505) 2786774

The "Departamento de Antropología" of the National University of Nicaragua (UNAM-Managua) consists of rather young professors of History and Geography (nearly all of them women) who are covering in their research, together with their students and post-graduates, an exceptionally wide range of social-anthropology: rural anthropology, economic anthropology, gender anthropology etc. Their great experience in field research on the one hand and the fact, that they have been working together, in previous academic projects, with nearly all of the European participants makes them ideal to be the lead contractor of task 2 (field research, 1st period: Sustainable Development). Because of their links to the Cuna-indians in Panama they are also going to subcontract the researchers there.

Josefina Hidalgo Blandon is the coordinator of the university-programme on social anthropology. She has also a masters degree in anthropology and teaching methods which makes her valuable for FR 2 where the research is going to focus on problems of intercultural communication.

Gloria Lopez Alvarado is a professor of law and anthropology who has been working with many of the indigenous communities of Nicaragua. And Maria Dolores Alvarez is a political scientist dedicated to analyse the specific forms of political interrelations among policy makers and their "clients", whilst Maritza Andino, a former geographer has specialized in economic anthropology stressing the "feminisation of poverty" which has taken place in Nicaragua, particularly on the indigenous Atlantic Coast.

Together with Manuel Ortega, the director of a research centre in Managua who has been one of the designers of the Indigenous autonomy status of the Atlantic coast in 1986. The UNAM Managua is going to develop their research as well as the counselling of the research executed by Acción Cultural NGOBE, an indigenous NGO working with the Cuna - Indians in Panama.

Participant number 8
Instituto Socioambiental - ISA
Sede São Paulo
Av. Higienópolis, 901
Higienópolis - São Paulo; CEP: 01238-001
Fone: 55 (011) 3660 7949
Fax: 55 (011) 3660-7941

Instituto Socioambiental - ISA is a private non-profit institution, established to propose integrated solutions to social and environmental issues. Its main objective is to defend social goods and rights, both collective and diffuse, relating to the environment, cultural heritage, human rights and the peoples.

Instituto Socioambiental is organized around institutional programs involving different projects and activities. ISA's priority is to support actions that connect demonstration projects with working programs and partnerships. This approach allows us to develop activities that span the local, regional, national and international levels.

The relations of the Indigenous peoples of Latin America with the surrounding societies have historically resulted in the social degradation of native communities and the deterioration of the natural resources of Indigenous lands. But since the discussion about sustainable development has started, the struggle of the Indigenous peoples for relations that are both fairer and more dignified with local, national and international societies has reached a new dimension.

Indigenous peoples, who had long been seen as examples of underdevelopment, have begun to be considered important partners in the formulation of strategies for sustainable development. Today, the postulations of the so-called Indian Question includes truly ensuring Indians the usufruct of the riches that exist within their territories, which can make possible, in additional to the traditional activities of subsistence, the success of new economic activities in accordance with the principles of environmental protection.

In Brazil, indigenism (pro-Indian policy) committed with Indian autonomy opposes the official policy of tutoring protection and assistencialism practiced by Funai, under the argument that it is essential to stimulate, in Indigenous areas, the development of economic alternatives towards sustainable development. That is one of the guidelines of ISA's work. The Programa Rio Negro (Rio Negro Program), the Programa Parque Indígena do Xingu (Xingu Indigenous Park Program) and the Projeto Xikrin Xikrin (Xikrin Project) are carried out by ISA with local partners. Learn more also about other partnerships between Indigenous organizations and governmental and non-governmental organizations that have been successful in facing such challenge.

Participant number 9
Fundación Pueblo Indio- FPI (Quito - Ecuador)
Calle Ruiz de Castilla Nr. 26-29 y Sosaya
Quito - Ecuador
Tel.: (593-2) 529361
Fax.: (593-2) 235098

"Pueblo Indio" (Indian People) is an independent foundation (NGO) dedicated to cultural and educational research which just has edited a comparative study on "The struggle for autonomy of the indigenous people of Latin America." It is headed by an experienced economist, Nidia Arrobo Rodas who works as a counsellor for the largest single indigenous movement in Latin America, the CONAIE. In this project, "Pueblo Indio" is going to coordinate the interdisciplinary research of other historians, legal experts and philosophers who are working on the concept of a "Multiethnic and pluri-cultural State" in Ecuador. The asset of this participation is that the indigenous people are actively involved in the research project and by no means simply "explored" or "ethnographed".