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About CHAGS and the ISHGR

 

The International Conferences on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS) advance knowledge about hunter-gatherer societies, generate intellectual exchange and debate, and have made significant contributions to our understanding of the human experience. CHAGS 10 and CHAGS 11 both attracted unprecedented numbers of first-timers and students across the four fields of anthropology and beyond and showed that hunter-gatherer research is vibrant with new disciplinary crossways and approaches, with heartening concern for the “real world” problems that hunter-gatherers must deal with. 

Since 2014, the institutional framework for CHAGS has been provided by the  International Society for Hunter Gatherer Research (ISHGR), a learned society for the promotion of research and better knowledge about hunter-gatherer societies in the past and the present. The ISHGR is a legacy of CHAGS 10 (convened by Larry Barham at the University of Liverpool in 2013), when the decision to found the Society was made in plenary.

The founding Board members and their current (2015–2018) positions are: Lye Tuck-Po, Universiti Sains Malaysia (President); Peter Schweitzer, University of Vienna (Vice-President); Khaled Hakami, University of Vienna (Secretary); Larry Barham, University of Liverpool (Treasurer); Jerome Lewis, University College London; and Thomas Widlok, University of Cologne.

ISHGR is the first ever formal network for scholars specialising in hunter-gatherer studies. One of its primary goals is to oversee the continuity of CHAGS. CHAGS 11 (2015) was the first conference of the ISHGR, convened to great success by Peter Schweitzer at the University of Vienna with Khaled Hakami as Conference Coordinator.  

 

Frequency of CHAGS

CHAGS will now take place every three years, with meeting location to be decided through open calls for conference convenors. 

 

Convening the next CHAGS

 

The call for CHAGS 13 (2021) convenors will be released by early 2018 and the decision will be announced at CHAGS 12 in Penang. Interested researchers are encouraged to begin thinking about submitting a proposal now. Preliminary inquiries can be addressed to the CHAGS Secretariat at office@ishgr.org.

 

Emphasis of CHAGS 12

 

For CHAGS 12, we will place emphasis on Southeast Asian peoples, and what they continue to teach us. We aim to cultivate diversity in concept-building and good practices of working with and relating to hunter-gatherers. 

How CHAGS began

 

Man the Hunter Lee Richard B 9780202330327

CHAGS goes back to the historic “Man the Hunter” symposium organised by Richard Lee and Irven deVore in 1966 in Chicago. This meeting brought together some of the most prominent anthropologists and archaeologists of the day together with a then-emerging cohort of hunter-gatherer fieldworkers (totalling 67 scholars from 14 countries, although participants were predominantly North American). The result was the edited volume of the same name (Lee and deVore 1968), which has since become a landmark in the history of hunter-gatherer research, and continues to be consulted. Conference and publication both firmly established the study of hunter-gatherer societies as a defined field of study in its own right.

Richard Lee at CHAGS 11. Photo © Daniel Dick

As recounted by Richard Lee, “Man the Hunter had been intended as a one-off event, but a decade later in 1978, Maurice Godelier convened a follow-up meeting on hunters and gatherers in Paris at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. . .The Paris conference's success indicated that there was a serious demand for conclaves about hunting and gathering peoples.” At the next meeting, at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada in 1980, “the term CHAGS was coined to provide a shorthand for what was becoming an ongoing enterprise.” 

CHAGS through time

Since then, the conference has been held every few years, bringing together a global range of specialists from fields as diverse as anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, biological anthropology, paleoanthropology, human evolution, sociobiology, genetics and, latterly, conservation, resource management, indigenous rights, gender, and development studies. The geographical coverage of the conference is extensive, and envelops all continents where current and former hunter-gatherers live. 

The longest interval between CHAGS meetings was from 2002 to 2013. And then came CHAGS X, convened by Larry Barham at Liverpool. The conference is not only revived but now has an institutional home in the International Society for Hunter Gatherer Research. Hunter-gatherer studies is alive and well. 

Previous CHAGS meetings

Man the Hunter

University of Chicago, 1966

CHAGS 1

Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, 1978

CHAGS 2

Laval University, Quebec University, 1980

CHAGS 3

Bad Homburg, Germany, 1983

CHAGS 4

London School of Economics, 1986

CHAGS 5

Northern Territory University, Darwin, Australia, 1988

CHAGS 6

University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1990

CHAGS 7

Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1993

CHAGS 8

National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan, 1998

CHAGS 9

University of Edinburgh, 2003

CHAGS 10

University of Liverpool, 2013

CHAGS 11

University of Vienna, 2015

Read more about the history of CHAGS

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T-shirt featuring the 1990 CHAGS logo. Photo by Bruce Winterhalder
Cover, CHAGS 11 programme book
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James Woodburn & Jiro Tanaka at the CHAGS XI conference dinner, Vienna, 2015

References

Barnard, Alan. 1983. Contemporary hunter-gatherers: current theoretical issues in ecology and social organization. Annual Review of Anthropology 12:193–214.

Griffin, Bion. 1994. CHAGS 7. Anthropology Newsletter January 1994:12–14.

Lee, Richard Borshay. 2014. "Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS)." Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, ed. Claire Smith. Springer.

Widlok, Thomas. 1998. Looking backward while moving forward: a report on the 8th International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS 8), Osaka, Japan, 26–30 October 1998. Nomadic Peoples (n.s.) 2 (1/2):304–307.