The curtains have come down on the World Anthropology Congress (WAC) at KISS Deemed to be University, but its echoes continue to resonate across the global anthropological landscape. The valedictory session, graced by Shri Arjun Munda, Hon’ble Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, shed light on the remarkable confluence of history, culture, and academia.
Minister Munda’s speech delved into the pivotal role of Emperor Ashoka in promoting world peace and highlighted the profound connection between the cult of Jagannath and tribal culture. He stressed the need for indigenous people to engage in self-reflection and research within their own communities, emphasizing that quality education is the key to empowering them to address their issues independently.
Moreover, Minister Munda expressed the readiness of the Tribal Affairs Ministry to collaborate on establishing a world-class museum for indigenous communities at KISS University, awaiting a formal proposal from the Odisha Government.
Dr Achyuta Samanta, Founder of KIIT & KISS, received accolades for his visionary leadership and dedication to providing free education to tribal students. He underlined KISS as the ideal venue for the World Anthropology Congress and celebrated the university’s status as the “largest anthropological laboratory of the world.”
Prof Deepak Kumar Behera, VC, KISS-DU, and President of the United India Anthropology Forum (UIAF), shared the staggering statistics of the event, which featured 350 sessions, 20 round-table meetings, 20 workshops, and 120 panel discussions. More than 1,100 anthropologists from 51 nations presented 1,200 research papers, supported by 8 pre-congresses and 10 post-WAC sessions.
The global acclaim for this congress extended beyond borders. Prof Anand Singh from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, commended Dr. Samanta’s commitment to tribal education. Prof P. C. Joshi, WAC Chairman and former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, hailed this as the most accessible and affordable anthropology congress ever, citing the unique initiatives undertaken by KISS.
Prof Charlotte Ann Roberts, a Fellow of the British Academy from Durham University, UK, lauded the astounding success of the Congress, underlining its significance in the field of anthropology.
Amidst these remarkable achievements and discussions, Prof Dr Amareswar Galla, from the UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Museums and Sustainable Heritage Development at Anant National University, Ahmedabad, and Emeritus Faculty at the Australian National University, emerged as a prominent advocate. He envisioned the Congress as a turning point in tribal empowerment and suggested KISS consider launching an international program on applied museum anthropology to nurture professionals capable of managing tribal museums.
As the World Anthropology Congress 2023 draws to a close, Professor Galla’s vision and the collective efforts of all involved promise a brighter future for indigenous communities worldwide, driven by education, cultural preservation, and empowerment.