18–30 July 2023 and 29 August–3 September 2023
What connects descendants of former sea nomads in southern Chile with our city?
For three weeks this summer, a delegation of Kawésqar from southern Chile will be guests at the Ethnographic Museum. Their aim is to introduce people in Zurich to the many aspects of their culture and everyday life. The Ethnographic Museum will open its spaces to them for this purpose.
With an exhibition, lectures and workshops, as well as activities for children, Kawésqar invite interested visitors to enter into conversation with them – about their current life realities and knowledge worlds, about ecology and climate change there as well as here.
Why Zurich? The Kawésqar, the city and also the University of Zurich are connected through the inglorious history of so-called “human zoos”: in 1881, eleven Kawésqar were abducted in Chile on behalf of the Carl Hagenbeck company to be put on display in Paris, in several German cities and finally in Zurich. Only four returned home alive at the end. Five Kawésqar died of illnesses in Zurich in 1882. Their remains were returned to descendants in Chile by the University of Zurich in 2010.
With the title “Ko Aswál – The Next Day”, the Kawésqar are taking the initiative for a new encounter in Zurich – to present the diverse aspects of their culture, their skills and their everyday life today. It is in this city, more than 140 years later, that they would like to begin a new chapter of togetherness in the world, and enter into joint conversations with a view to the future.
This encountering project has been realized in partnership with the Pueblo Kawésqar Foundation, the Chilean Embassy in Switzerland and the Ethnographic Museum at the UZH. We wish the project a far-reaching impact!
The detailed event programme can be found below.
Portrait Celina Llanllán Catalán. Photo: Steffa Marquez, 2019.
21 August 2023, Article by Marita Fuchs, translated by Philip Isler, “Seafaring Nomads of Patagonia Turn the Page”.
Dear public in Zurich
We, Kawésqar representatives from Southern Chile, invite the Zurich public to come and meet with us. We want to share with you our cultural knowledge, the heritage of the old canoe nomads, and tell you about the life of the new Kawésqar generations.
We will take you on guided tours, present our material culture, offer craft workshops and invite you to enter into conversation with us.
President of the Pueblo Kawésqar Foundation
"Ko Aswál"flyer (PDF, 2 MB)
You can also find detailed information on the museum website: