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(P13) The negrito peoples of the Philippines: genetic origins, socio-cultural adaptations, and prospects for the future

Convenors: Keiichi Omoto, University of Tokyo; Leslie Bauzon, University of the Philippines at Diliman

Discussants: Bion Griffin, James Eder, Naruya Saitou

Abstract: This session aims to obtain an integrated understanding of the Philippine negrito peoples through inter-disciplinary discussions of old and new research findings. Participants from diverse disciplinary backgrounds—including molecular genetics, ethnography and social-cultural anthropology, linguistics, and history—are welcome.

Keywords: Philippines, negrito peoples, population history, lifeways, future

Format: standard panel and roundtable

Precirculated materials: none required


The Philippine archipelago has been critical to understanding ancient population histories in the Western Pacific, but little of this discussion has been broached at CHAGS. On the other hand, the so-called negritos of the Philippines (Agta / Aeta / Ayta / Eta, Mamanwa, Batak, etc.) have been well-discussed in hunter-gatherer studies since the 1970s, with key ethnographies and ethnoarchaeological studies helping to revise models of (for example) forager-farmer interdependencies, women hunters, settlement patterns, and tropical subsistence. At the same time, these groups have also drawn the attention of historical linguists, evolutionary anthropologists and biologists, and molecular geneticists. With groups pulled into wider political and military conflicts, and problems stemming from environmental degradation, land loss and displacement, and poverty (among some key topics), research foci have also diversified in recent decades. Although the number of researchers working on so-called negrito issues has grown, there is sometimes a lack of conversation across disciplines. This session invites researchers to consider, interdisciplinarily, the current state of knowledge about the so-called negrito groups, their positions in the modern Philippine state, their histories, and their futures, and identify key issues facing them today.

Papers exploring the following lines of investigation (among others) are welcome:

  1. Exploring genetic origins and evolution using (for example) new technologies of DNAs and genomes, including comparisons with similar populations in Africa and other parts of Asia.
  2. Ethnographic studies of socio-cultural adaptations to changing environments, including adaptations to major catastrophes like the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.
  3. Human rights: why and how negrito peoples suffer, including problems exacerbated by recent industrial developments such as mining and dam-construction, and what can be done to address these problems.
  4. Arresting ethnic extinction, and exploring prospects for the future.
  5. Considering why we study hunter-gatherers. Is their present siuation acceptable?




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