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(P29) Caring systems for the aged within the framework of life-courses (stages of life) among hunter-gatherer communities

Convenor: Motomitsu Uchibori, The Open University of Japan

Abstract: This session aims to investigate the characteristics of the life-course and the caring system among hunter-gatherers, especially concerning the aged in hunter-gatherer communities. Comparisons with those of agricultural societies, adjacent to and in mutual and perpetual interaction with them, are encouraged.

Keywords: life-course, the aged, shared care-giving, comparisons

Format: standard panel

Pre-circulated papers: none required


The idea for this session emerged from ongoing research on the formation of culture of aged people in several societies, both in comparatively “traditional” and modern social and institutional settings. The research is in the overall framework of “neo-gerontology”, sponsored by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science, and covers hunter-gatherer societies—the Batek—in Peninsular Malaysia, and ex-hunter-gatherers and swidden agriculturists—the Beketan and the Iban—in Sarawak as well as village societies in rural Japan, caring institutions in Finland, and communities for the aged in the US.

For CHAGS, the idea is broadened to include other stages in individuals' life-courses than the narrowly defined stage of the aged, though the latter remains the primary focus. Although the main aim of the session is to investigate the characteristics of life-courses within the framework of the caring system—or the sharing of care-giving—among hunter-gatherers, comparisons with those of farmers are encouraged, especially swiddeners who are usually adjacent to and in perpetual interaction with hunter-gatherers. Such comparisons are expected to be excellent objective resources for evaluating the characteristics of hunter-gatherers’ communal features concerning the caring of the aged, the handicapped, and the weak. The session is not exclusive geographically, even if some participants specialise in Malaysian (both Peninsular and Borneon) settings. The term “life-course” is adopted in order to avoid artificial separation of “stages” of life from each other. 




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