P009
Sociality on the move: finding the way through hunter-gatherer ecological knowledge

Convenors:
Akira Takada (Kyoto University)
Chair:
Akira Takada
Location:
301 A
Start time:
18 May, 2014 at 15:30
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Numerous ethnographies have described hunter-gatherers' use of distinctive ecological knowledge in their movements. How is mobility organized socially? How does mobility organize society? This panel will discuss at length these questions and inquire into the nature of hunter-gatherer sociality.

Long abstract:

Mobility was once dominant in hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Numerous ethnographies have described hunter-gatherers' use of distinctive ecological knowledge (EK) in their movements, such as in tracking animals based on their spoors, moving back and forth between camps, and participating in long-distance trade. Inspired by recent technological advances in research methodologies, such as data collection using GPS, GIS, and action cameras, this panel session will discuss at length the following questions about the mobility of (post-) hunter-gatherer groups. How is mobility organized socially? EK takes shape at the intersection of habitus and habitat, both of which reflect hunter-gatherers' long-term involvement with the environment. In addition to verbal utterances, various kinds of gesture, posture, and group member configuration compose vital parts of EK. Moreover, EK is expressed, exchanged, and shared among participants while they are engaged in movement. Hence, detailed analysis of their wayfinding practices allows us to delve into the social organization of EK. How does mobility organize society? Movement patterns also suggest how hunter-gatherer societies are organized. For example, the range and frequency of visits among various camps reveal not only social relationships, but also the hidden moral ideal shared in the society. All hunter-gatherer societies are experiencing dramatic changes, and these societies face the urgent need to find their bearings. Under such circumstances, the way in which each individual participates in movement sheds light on what it means to be a hunter-gatherer. Taken together, the presentations in this panel session inquire into the nature of hunter-gatherer sociality.