Czechs awarded Chilean Order

Two Czechs were awarded the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins by the State of Chile a few days ago. The order is given to foreigners who have given outstanding services to the Chilean state in the humanities, culture, or science. Milan Stuchlik, who received the award in memoriam, and his wife Jarka Stuchlikova worked as anthropologists in Chile for years and Milan Stuchlik founded the Department of Anthropology at the university in Temuco. But the most interesting part of their work in Chile, says Jarka Stuchlikova was with the Indian Mapuche tribe. By Olga Szantova.

"We lived in a little market town in the middle of the reservation. It was a kind of wonderful life. No electricity, no water."

How old were your children?

"They were three and four. They were like little Mapuche."

What is the position of Czech anthropology compared to results achieved in other countries?

"Well, the current teaching of anthropology at Charles University I think pays attention mostly to the Roma minority in Slovakia and Bohemia. This is our different social group in our country. Anthropology these days is different, because it is mixed with sociology and with other branches - social psychology and other social sciences. So people go to urban societies as well, working there as anthropologists. Milan actually started this science here in Prague in the 1960s, because this science wasn't supported by the state, because the official ideology was that Marx-Leninism explains everything, every part of human behavior. So social anthropology and sociology was just kind of frowned upon. And Milan went to do the research because there was an exchange program between the universities, the university in Chile and Charles University in Prague and one anthropologist went to Prague and he went to Chile. So this was a kind of an exceptional program, exceptional lucky chance for him."

How interested are Czechs in South American Indians?

"Because Czechs are squeezed between the mountains in the middle of Central Europe, they are attracted by anything exotic. They would go anywhere. I'm quite pleased now because people go to very far away countries like Borneo, Nepal, Australia, South America. They are not ordinary tourists going to lie on the beach. They go and explore, which is wonderful."

Do you think this is one of the ways, or an effective way of fighting xenophobia?

"I think those people with xenophobia go nowhere and they have no experience of other races, other people. I thin those people who go are youngsters, who are interested in the world and my big hope is when they become mature people, xenophobia will disappear. Hopefully."

Author: Olga Szantová
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