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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 18 / 43

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social and historical contexts. The French have the greatest interest and number of publications on Congo Basin history, perhaps because of their long colonial and administrative history in the region, but Ichikawa says he was influenced by revisionism and the importance of history.

Why did scholars conduct the studies?

Several researchers were responding to perceived weaknesses in previous research. Turnbull thought Schebesta’s research was superficial and Ichikawa and other Japanese thought Turnbull’s descriptions of the Mbuti were romantic and neglected to describe how they made a living in the forest. Other researchers, such as Bahuchet and Hewlett, were interested in describing the life a relatively unknown hunter-gatherer group or wanted to cover a topic seldom discussed in the literature.

Early Japanese and contemporary American research took place, in part, because both felt studies of hunter-gatherers, such as the Congo Basin foragers, might provide clues to understanding human nature and human evolution.  This is not entirely surprising as Itani, who trained Ichikawa, and DeVore, who trained Bailey, were friends. While the Americans and Japanese shared this objective, field methods and approaches were very different. The Japanese rejected evolutionary theory, in part because it was associated with the West, did not like American methods such as focal follows, and preferred more inductive, descriptive and natural history approaches to research.

Research questions

Several research questions have dominated Congo Basin forager research. Researchers from all or most of the four research traditions described above have tried to answer the questions from

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