This dissertation project investigates the history of the Andean Indian Programme (AIP), which was a cooperative development project coordinated by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Between 1952 and 1972 the AIP carried out a technical assistance project for indigenous communities in the Andean highlands in conjunction with the states of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.
In the AIP, international experts from the ILO and other United Nations bodies worked together with representatives of the national administrations, national and international anthropologists, and indigenista intellectuals and organizations throughout the Americas. The primary object was to "modernize" the living conditions of indigenous communities in the Andean highlands and integrate them into the dominant national societies. This included, for example, the implementation of vocational training programs and the organization of cooperatives in the agricultural and craftsman sectors in the sierra as well as the improvement of the medical infrastructure in the communities. Finally, the AIP was to have a singular role in the history of ILO technical cooperation activities - originally planned as a pilot for other projects on indigenous populations worldwide, it did, however, not have any follow ups in the Americas or elsewhere on the globe.
From the very beginning of the project, when the first cooperative agreements between the ILO and the Andean states were signed and the far reaching objectives of the program were designed, ILO experts became active in the emerging field of state driven indigenist policies in the Andean region. They remained active in this field until the late 1960s, when the last AIP facilities had finally been handed over to national administrations or had been integrated into other international development programs.
The central questions of this dissertation are the following: Why and under what circumstances did the ILO set up a proper agenda for "developing" indigenous populations via technical assistance and become part of indigenist state policies in the Andean region? How did its activities become entangled with state plans for the integration of indigenous populations in the Andes? And why and under what circumstances did the ILO finally decide to retreat from this field?
Departing from this historical study, the dissertation contributes to research on ILO's institutional history and, furthermore, to the broader research questions concerning the role not only of regionalization processes and local agendas in international development aid in post-war Latin America, but also the history of inter-American Indigenismo - both topics which have received growing attentions from historians during the last few years.