HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, published both in Spanish and in French, on Stefano Varese as a key figure of applied anthropology, with a focus on Amazonian activism.
Favier, Irène, 2023. “Utopía y consuelo amazónico. Stefano Varese como antropólogo activista, hitos biográficos” (translated by Isabelle Combès), in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Favier, Irène, 2023. “Utopie et consolation amazonienne. Stefano Varese en anthropologue activiste, jalons biographiques”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Born in Genoa in 1939, anthropologist Stefano Varese left Italy for Peru in 1956. His ethno-historical doctoral researches on the Asháninka of the Gran Pajonal region resulted in La sal de los cerros (1968), a milestone in the history of Peruvian Amazon studies. In the late 1960s, Varese gave up his position at the University of San Marcos to participate in the agrarian reform carried out by the new military government. While pursuing his studies of the Amazonian worlds, he contributed to a decree recognizing the legal existence of native communities as late as 1974. From being an intellectual under construction, Varese found himself propelled to the rank of a figure in the “strange revolution” carried out by the state apparatus between 1968 and 1975. Following the demise of this political experience, he went into exile, first in Mexico, then in the United States. Migration movements in Latin America and the United States became one of his fundamental research topics. In this compelling article, Irène Favier shows how the biographical itinerary of this Italian-Peruvian anthropologist crosses the second half of the twentieth century, while giving an account of the dynamics that affected anthropology at the time. Favier reveals how Varese continued to produce knowledge and to raise awareness of indigenous issues, thus becoming a key figure in the development – and the history – of applied anthropology, to which he gave a stronger political dimension. Apart from teaching – namely at the University of California, Davis, where he helped create the Native American Studies department in 1988 – Varese pursued international activities of expertise on indigenous issues. This article retraces this trajectory by restoring its historical context, and attempts to identify Varese’s legacy in the long and complex history of applied anthropology.