Chapter 3

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán: Applied Anthropology and Indigenous Policy
Thomas Weaver

Applied Anthropology in Mexico
Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán (1908–1996), trained as both a medical doctor and an anthropologist, spent much of his career in government service in his native Mexico. As director of the National Indian Institute and as Assistant Secretary for Popular Culture and Extra Curricular Education, he was responsible for charting and implementing indigenous policy in Mexico for nearly three decades. In his 1973 Malinowski Award address, Aguirre Beltrán sketched the development of anthropology in Mexico, where all major anthropologists came to hold high government positions. Thus, there was little distinction in Mexico between social anthropology and applied anthropology, both of which were closely associated with Indian policy and with efforts to facilitate the integration of marginal populations into the national society.