Hundreds of Indigenous leaders, activists and anthropologists have denounced plans to hold the 2023 World Congress of Anthropology at the world’s largest “Factory School,” where children are told they are “never fully human.”
Protestors have signed an open letter calling on the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and other anthropological bodies to “sever their ties” with the giant Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) in India, a residential school for 30,000 tribal children.
KISS calls itself an ‘anthropological laboratory’ while divorcing Adivasi (Indigenous) children from their cultures, languages and ways of life. It declares its mission is to “turn tax consumers into tax payers, liabilities into assets.”
KISS recently opened a branch of the school jointly with notorious mining company Adani. Oraon Adivasi leader, Nicholas Barla said: “KISS’s collaborators are the same companies and corporates, who take away our Adivasi land, dispossessing us of our livelihood and forcing us to live in misery, to live in slums in subhuman conditions.”
One of the petitioners, Pranab Doley, of the Mising tribe said: “The model of education that KISS promotes is anti-Adivasi and anti-children. It is a model of colonizing Adivasi children and uprooting them from their own land and culture.”
30,000 girls and boys from different Adivasi communities stay at KISS for 9 months of the year.
An anonymous KISS student told Survival: "The Deputy CEO tells us, ‘We give you so much here but you will only ever be Adivasis – never fully human’.” KISS’s founder gave a speech in 2019 in which he refers to an Adivasi community by name as ‘monkeys’ and says: "There are so many variety of primitive tribes – they don’t understand anything.”
Prof Nandini Sundar, a renowned sociologist from Delhi University who signed the petition, said: “It is a travesty that an anthropological congress which aims at understanding the human condition should partner with an institution which is aimed at blocking any understanding of Indigenous people in its own home state Odisha.”
Survival is campaigning to end Factory Schools like KISS, which strip around two million Indigenous and tribal children of their identities and teach them to feel ashamed of who they are and where they come from. It’s campaigning for Indigenous education to be under Indigenous control.