Dr. Robert Hitchcock, UNM
August 23, 2019

Africa, a continent of 54 countries, 3,600 ethnic groups, and over 7,700 languages, is ‘the cradle of humankind,’ the place where humans originated. It is the continent with the highest rates of urbanization and population growth and is a world leader in strategies for dealing with climate change. Sometimes seen as a continent in decline, Africa today is experiencing a significant renaissance. From a diplomatic standpoint, more new embassies have been opened in Africa than any other part of the world in the past decade. Africa is involved heavily in the application and use of digital technologies, artificial intelligence, mobile banking, and cell phones. Africans are engaged in innovative methods of poverty alleviation, community-based approaches to wildlife conservation and tourism, gender empowerment, and climate change adaptations including conservation agriculture, reforestation, and drought relief and mitigation. Unlike other parts of the world, most African countries have broad-based social safety nets and guarantees of rights to food, water, and education. It is employing human rights approaches in dealing with disease and is engaged in successful conflict management and conflict resolution efforts. African infrastructure development projects have established world standards in corporate social responsibility (CSR), and benefit distribution. The more democratic African countries are, the greater their social and economic wellbeing. This presentation will address lessons from Africa including unique ways that are being used to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Robert K. Hitchcock is a research professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and an Adjunct Professor of Geography and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. He is also a board member of the Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF). He is an applied cultural anthropologist and human ecologist who has spent much of his professional career working on issues facing current and former hunters and gatherers and agropastoral peoples, particularly in Africa. A significant part of his work concentrates on the human rights of indigenous people and minorities. In addition, he provides anthropological expertise in land and resource rights-related legal cases, and he conducts social and environmental impact assessments of large dams, agricultural projects, refugee resettlement, and conservation programs, mainly in Africa, but also in the Middle East, and North and South America. Some of his more recent work is on border issues, including those relating to the rights of indigenous and other migrants from Central America to the United States. He was a founder of the Committee for Human Rights in the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and he has served as a liaison between the AAA and the Society for Applied Anthropology on environmental and human rights issues since 1990.

Supported in part by City of Albuquerque