[In The News] Conservation Organizations Abuse BaYaka Forest Foragers

Loss of land is one of the biggest contributors to loss of Indigenous Knowledge, and thus, the ability to transmit Indigenous Knowledge to children. In the Congo Basin, where I work, conservation organizations like the WWF and WCS are some of the greatest perpetrators of human rights violations towards the BaYaka.

A new report from Survival International, a leading world organization which fights for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, states:

But big conservation organizations like WWF are partnering with industry and tourism and destroying the environment’s best allies. Now tribal people are accused of “poaching” because they hunt to feed their families. And they face arrest and beatings, torture and death, while big game trophy hunters are encouraged.

Please, consider writing to WWF, asking them to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, not against them. If parents are to continue teaching their children the subsistence and cultural skills necessary to cultural survival, they need access to their land.


[Paper Spotlight] Homo Faber Juvenalis

A new paper by David Lancy explores how children learn to make tools. Check it out here!

Abstract: The overall goal of this paper is to derive a set of generalizations that might characterize children as tool makers/users in the earliest human societies. These generalizations will be sought from the collective wisdom of four distinct bodies of scholarship: lithic archaeology; juvenile chimps as novice tool users; recent laboratory work in human infant and child cognition, focused on objects becoming tools and; the ethnographic study of children learning their community’s toolkit. The presumption is that this collective wisdom will yield greater insight into children’s development as tool producers and users than has been available to scholars operating within narrower disciplinary limits.

[Paper Spotlight] How do hunter-gatherers learn?

A new paper by Renee Hagen et al. explores social learning among Agta hunter-gatherers of the Philippines. Check it out here!

Abstract: The Agta of the Philippines depend on extensive knowledge of their natural environment for their livelihoods. However, little is known about the transmission of this indigenous ecological knowledge. This paper examines the transmission of knowledge on hunting, fishing and gathering among the Agta in San Mariano, Isabela Province. We used observation, interviewing and knowledge tests as methods of inquiry. Our results show that knowledge transmission happens on-site, is gender-specific and that pathways of knowledge transmission differ per livelihood activity. Learning among the Agta takes place stepwise but less systematically than suggested by earlier research on knowledge transmission among hunter-gatherers. We found that observation, imitation and individual experimentation are important modes of learning in all livelihood activities. Contemporary environmental and social change, particularly deforestation and formal education, have far-reaching implications for knowledge transmission and identity in Agta society.

[Paper Spotlight] How Do Hunter- Gatherer Children Learn Social and Gender Norms? A Meta- Ethnographic Review


Our first research team paper has been published online! Take a look at our paper here.

Abstract: Forager societies tend to value egalitarianism, cooperative autonomy, and sharing. Furthermore, foragers exhibit a strong gendered division of labor. However, few studies have employed a cross-cultural approach to understand how forager children learn social and gender norms. To address this gap, we perform a meta-ethnography, which allows for the systematic extraction, synthesis, and comparison of quantitative and qualitative publications. In all, 77 publications met our inclusion criteria. These suggest that sharing is actively taught in infancy. In early childhood, children transition to the playgroup, signifying their increased autonomy. Cooperative behaviors are learned through play. At the end of middle childhood, children self-segregate into same-sex groups and begin to perform gender-specific tasks. We find evidence that foragers actively teach children social norms, and that, with sedentarization, teaching, through direct instruction and task assignment, replaces imitation in learning gendered behaviors. We also find evidence that child-to-child transmission is an important way children learn cultural norms, and that noninterference might be a way autonomy is taught. These findings can add to the debate on teaching and learning within forager populations.