Chapter 8

Juan Comas: Indigenous Policy and the Fight against Racism
Thomas Weaver

The International Fight against Racism: Words and Realities
Juan Comas

A refugee from the Civil War in Spain, Juan Comas (1900–1979) was a founding professor of the Escuela Nacional de Anthropológia in Mexico. He is best known for his promotion of an intercontinental indigenous policy and his fight against racism. His training as a biologist and physical anthropologist helped him underscore physical, nutritional, and health as well as political and educational issues deriving from the social conditions under which indigenous groups live. In his 1978 Malinowski Award address, Comas traced the history of international efforts to define and combat racism, which, he concluded, had produced more words than deeds. He proposed that scientific information about racism be widely disseminated among the world’s indigenous populations, who are among those who suffer the most from the phenomena.

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