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Keynote speakers


P. Bion Griffin

Nurit Bird-David

Peter Schweitzer


BionP. Bion Griffin


Bion Griffin is Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. During his senior (undergraduate) year at the University of Maine (1963), he viewed the Marshalls’ film The Hunters while enrolled in Introductory Anthropology. It was then that he decided that living with hunters was his future. At the University of Arizona he was introduced to ethnoarchaeology and Turnbull’s Mbuti, and realised that he wanted to explore forests not deserts (where he had done early field training with Apache). His initial interest in ethnoarchaeology and hunters-gatherers was inspired by 1960s archaeology’s drive to find a theoretical and methodological way to learn about the socio-cultural and evolutionary aspects of hominid development. Gaining his Ph.D. in 1969, he joined the anthropology faculty at the University of Hawai`i because they agreed that he could pursue hunters in Asia. In 1972 he began ethnoarchaeology among Agta hunters-gatherers in northeastern Luzon, the Philippines, launching what was to become his major work. 

In the 1980s, Griffin and his wife Agnes Estioko Griffin focused research on Agta women hunters. Their data convincingly demonstrated (as increasingly accepted by specialists since the Man the Hunter symposium) that women can be hunters of large game during their peak reproductive years—that women’s capacity to hunt is less about physical constraints than about the social organisation of work. Various papers have been published, including those of the Griffins and their collaborators collected in The Agta: Recent Studies (University of San Carlos Press, Cebu City, 1985). A joint paper in the edited volume Woman the Gatherer (ed. Frances Dahlberg, Yale University Press, 1981)—which has a second life in textbooks on gender—has possibly had the widest influence in archaeology. The best-known writings on Agta research are Agnes Estioko Griffin’s often reprinted article “Daughters of the forest” (originally published in Natural History 95(5), 1986) and subsequently the work of Bion’s students, Tom Headland, Navin Rai and Marcus Griffin.

Griffin has never lost his interest in Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and is a throughly well-rounded Southeast Asianist. He retains interests in the prehistory, archaeology, and anthropology of both the mainland and insular parts of the region. Apart from the Agta work, he has launched interdisciplinary team projects on (among other topics) Maluku subsistence and early state formations in the Mekong River Basin. He continues short-term research among Agta (most recently in 2015) and on elephant husbandry among Southeast Asian hill peoples, including Bunong elephant hunters and capturers in Cambodia.



UKP13 0027Nurit Bird-David


Nurit Bird-David is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Haifa. She received her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Her major specialisation in hunter-gatherer studies is her work with the Nayaka of South India, from which she has launched several comparative analyses of hunter-gatherer perspectives, behaviours, and economics that have proved influential beyond hunter-gatherer studies. This early work includes the much-cited “The giving environment: Another perspective on the economic system of gatherer-hunters” (Current Anthropology 31(2):189–196, 1990) and “‘Animism’ revisited: Personhood, environment and relational epistemology” (Current Anthropology 40s:S67–S91, 1999). Her most recent key publications are “Before nation: Scale-blind anthropology and foragers’ worlds of relatives” (Current Anthropology 58(2): 209–226, 2017) and Us, Relatives: Scaling and Plural Life in a Forager World (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2017).

Bird-David’s subjects of interest range from economy through family and childhood to environmental perceptions, animism, and, most recently, community imaginaries. In recent years she has carried out research projects on constructing homes and identities, and on home and security in neoliberal consumer Israeli society. Ethnography of the Nayaka continues with her students, who are also making their own marks on hunter-gatherer studies.





At CHAGS XI, with University of Vienna students in the background. Photo © Daniel Dick 

Peter Schweitzer


Peter Schweitzer is Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He received his Ph.D. and then Habilitation in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Vienna. His theoretical interests range from kinship and identity politics to human-environmental interactions, including the community effects of global climate change, and his regional focus areas include the circumpolar North and the former Soviet Union.

He became interested in the hunters and gatherers of Siberia during the 1980s, when their mere existence remained largely unacknowledged for political and typological reasons. CHAGS VII in Moscow (1993) was among the first major conferences to correct this misconception, and Schweitzer was co-editor of the volume resulting from that meeting, Hunters and Gatherers in the Modern World (Berghahn, 2000). Since then, he has been working with Alaskan hunters and gatherers (primarily with Inupiat of Northwest Alaska), as well as continued research in Siberia, with hunters and gatherers and others alike. In 2015, he served as the convenor of CHAGS XI in Vienna.

Schweitzer is past president of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association, and past chair of the Social and Human Sciences Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). He is the editor of Dividends of Kinship (Routledge, 2000), as well as co-editor of Arctic Social Indicators (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2010) and Arctic Social Indicators II: Implementation (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2014). Schweitzer is also a co-author of Russian Old-Settlers of Siberia (Novoe izdatel’stvo, 2004; in Russian) and of Arctic Sustainability Research (Routledge, 2017).