Indigenous Perspectives Conference

One of Britain's leading adventurers, Benedict Allen, is to open the Indigenous Perspectives Conference on Monday 12th October. Allen is the author of 11 books, but is probably best known for his TV programmes of exploration and endurance. His first-hand experience of indigenous people in jungle, tundra and desert qualifies him to speak with authority and warmth at this one-day conference at the Pierian Centre.

The Indigenous Perspectives Conference brings together representatives of indigenous peoples from all over the world together with campaigners and academics specialising in different aspects of indigenous culture. It celebrates the 2nd anniversary of the U.N’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and it is a unique opportunity to hear the indigenous voice in all its variety, and to find out how close to silence and extinction it’s being pushed. The cultures covered include the Jumma of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Mapuche of Chile, the Emberá of Panama, West Papua, Tibet, the Kiribati islands of Micronesia, and the Yagan and Kawesqar peoples of Tierra del Fuego. Speakers range from senior academics to individuals who have been jailed and beaten for defending their culture.

Benedict Allen has narrowly escaped death six times; arguably no-one has more experience of living continuously isolated in as many remote environments. Last seen on our screens in March presenting BBC’s Travellers’ Century, Allen paved the way for the current generation of TV adventurers. As The Sunday Times put it: “Filming whatever actually happens, without all the hidden paraphernalia of a film crew, and whether in danger or lonely or undergoing various exotic rituals, he has effectively taken the viewers’ experience of adventure as far as it can go.” Allen himself looks back on his earlier journeys over 25 years ago, saying “I belonged to the last generation that might pass through a wilderness for months on end and not encounter a single person of my own culture. It was a privileged time: never in all those years can I remember coming across a single other foreigner, whilst out on a trek.”

The conference falls with heavy irony on Columbus Day (12th October) – and it also coincides with the 40th year of Survival International’s invaluable work. If you are interested in attending please contact us on [email protected] or 0117 924 4512. In addition to plenary sessions reviewing issues like the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples, there will be small-group seminars on the experience of military force , the role of tourism, the impact of historic genocides on surviving peoples, the relationship with the land, sustaining cultural identity in exile, and the tensions between traditional and democratic authority. The Conference is on Monday 12th October, 9.30am–4.30pm. It takes place at The Pierian Centre, 27 Portland Square, St Pauls, Bristol BS2 8SA. The delegate rate of £45 includes lunch and refreshments – with limited concessionary places at £25 for low income, and £12.50 for students.

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