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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 27 / 43

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It is surprising that we do not have one good demographic study of forest foragers given that several researchers have conducted ecological studies for several years at the same sites. Several studies identify number of children and adults in the population, several try to estimate ages, and a few studies include relatively easy-to-collect demographic data, e.g., total fertility rates of post-reproductive women and mortality rates for infants or pre-reproductive adolescents. A complete and systematic demographic study that tries to establish good age estimates does not exist.  Systematic hunter-gatherer demography is important in its own right, but it is also important for several evolutionary hypotheses, such as the life history hypothesis to explain forager short stature described above, and it is also important in development circles because demographic data are essential to understanding and responding to health risks in the populations (e.g., mortality data).

Ethnographic research is also needed on how foragers think and feel about a variety of topics, such as sharing, egalitarianism, gender relations, the family and religion. Existing Japanese and American studies tend to emphasize observational methods and French ethnolinguistic research is descriptive and gives an indirect view of how forest foragers think and feel about the world. We know forest foragers share extensively and are very egalitarian, but we know little about how they feel and perceive these topics and we know little about how they view such topics as family life, health and the spiritual world.

Finally, basic ethnographic research is needed on several forest forager ethnic groups. Some anthropologists suggest that hunter-gatherer studies are a thing of the past because hunter-gatherers no longer exist. This is not the case in the Congo Basin. A few studies, but no complete ethnography, exist on some groups (e.g., Bongo, Kola), other groups are known to researchers

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