International Congress of Americanists

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International Congress of Americanists

The International Congress of Americanists is a traditional event that has been held since 1875 for the purpose of advancing the historical and scientific knowledge of the American continent and its inhabitants. The first such congress, organized by the Société Américaine de France, was chaired by Baron Guerrier de Dumast and held in the city of Nancy, France, with the aim of fostering knowledge of the history and ethnography of precolonial America. With the clear goal of minimizing Spain's influence on the American continent, the first congress focused on the theme of the origins and discovery of the Americas. Subsequent conferences in Luxemburg (1877), Brussels (1879), and Madrid (1881) maintained this focus. These congresses were followed by those in Copenhagen (1883), Turin (1886), Berlin (1888), Paris (1890), Huelva (1892), and Stockholm (1894).

A congress was convened on American territory for the first time in 1895, in Mexico City. Since then the event has been held in other important American cities (Buenos Aires, New York, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago de Chile), alternating with European cities. In 1900 it was again held in France. At that time it was decided to adopt Spanish and English as official languages, in addition to French. Portuguese (in 1908) and German and Italian (both in 1964) were later accepted.

Since the late twentieth century, the studies presented at the conferences have not been limited to Americanism, but also include contemporary issues facing the continent. Scientific and other activities held at the congress cover various fields, such as anthropology, archaeology, art, literature, environmental studies, economics, and society in general. Among the congress's most renowned speakers was the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, at the 1947 conference held in Paris. Turning away from the Eurocentrism of the first meetings, the present-day congresses, held every three years, assemble thousands of lecturers, the majority of them Hispanic Americans.

See alsoHemispheric Affairs .


Comas, Juan. Cien años de Congresos Internacionales de Americanistas. Mexico City: UNAM, 1974.

                                     Vicente Palermo

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International Congress of Americanists

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International Congress of Americanists