Anthropology in Mexico has always been applied, and this often puts anthropologists, indigenous peoples, and anthropological principals in direct conflict with state policy and the national project. This paper summarizes the history of anthropology and applied anthropology in Mexico, using my career in the National Indigenist Institute (INI) and the Indigenous Education Office (DGEI) of the Education Secretariat (SEP). It illustrates the risks and challenges anthropologists face when they side with indigenous peoples in favor of their individual and collective self-determination and autonomy.

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