Lecture in language
Thanks to his stay among the Amazonian Indians, the cultural anthropologist Mnislav Zelený became not only a renowned expert on the life and culture of the indigenous tribes of the Amazon, but, above all, their friend. In 1989 he was adopted by the Jawalapiti tribe and honoured with the name Atapana, which means Leaf of a Green Palm.
Nearly fifty years ago, a fresh graduate of ethnology left his home and headed straight to South America. Mnislav earned the money for his very first trips on his own: he built the London Underground, worked as a waiter, a docker in Rotterdam, a vegetable stock worker or a mountain postman in the Czech Republic. As soon as he got out of the plane in Rio, he knew he would stay on the continent for a long time. Gradually, he headed out of towns into the forest, among the Amazonian Indians. And he became an adoptive member of three tribes. From 1996 to 2001 he was the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Colombia and Ecuador. His Great Amazon Foundation seeks to reverse the destruction of Indian culture. Mnislav writes his own blog, various articles, essays and commentaries, he lectures throughout the country and has organized dozens of photographic exhibitions. He is the author of several books. The last one, called Progress to Extinction (2018), will also be the topic of his Meltingpot session. The book is a selection of his newspaper and internet articles from 1970–2016, and covers the lives of indigenous tribes, but also, more generally, the problems of Latin America and Europe, drug mafias, corruption, globalization, xenophobia or migration.