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(P40) Everyday social interactions of hunter-gatherers

Wednesday 25th July, 1:30 – 2:30 PM. Room: SK205

 Convenor: Daiji Kimura, Kyoto University 

Extant studies of hunter–gatherers (HGs) have focused on ecological, social, and historical characteristics. However, it is the unique social orientations of this population that leave the strongest impression on the researchers actually in contact with HGs. These can be described as “softness”, “elusiveness”, or “quietness”. For example, Mr. Morikazu Kumagai, a Japanese painter who visited the HG Ainu village in Sakhalin in the early 20th century wrote, “I saw a scene with two old Ainu men on a small boat. At that time, I felt impressed by its resemblance to a kind of landscape. Bending over the waists, they were rowing the boat slowly, slowly. I thought that if God were in the world, it would look like that.” What elicits this kind of reaction? Data from interviews and participant observations cannot answer this question. Rather, a microscopic analysis of social interactions, such as conversation/discourse analysis, proxemics, or video analysis, is necessary. I have elucidated some of the features of social interactions in past CHAGSs. For example, my conversation analysis underscored the frequent speech overlaps and long silences that are often observed in HG interactions but rarely observed in Western conversations. As a consequence of these phenomena, the “utterance origin” or “individuality” of the words spoken by HGs are unclear. Video analysis has clarified the multi-connectedness of these interactions, which is a trait that is also reflected in the collective behavior of HGs. We plan to invite HG researchers from various research sites who are interested in microscopic analysis of precisely recorded social interactions to participate in the proposed session. We hope to elucidate the theoretical underpinnings of this approach to increase our understanding of fundamental problems, such as the question of what is meant by “individuals” and “others”, thereby providing insights into our own lifestyles.  

Papers

1:30 – 1:50 PM. Everyday social interactions of hunter-gatherers: Progresses and prospects

Daiji Kimura, Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University

Short abstract: To clarify the unique social interactional of hunter-gatherers, it is necessary to adopt a microscopic approach. I will discuss researches performed from this perspective to explore its meaning on our current way of living.

Long abstract: Hunter-gatherer (HG) studies so far have focused on their ecological, social, and historical characteristics. However, their unique social orientations, which can be described as “softness”, “elusiveness”, or “quietness,” have not been subject to major research. Data from interviews or participant observation can hardly answer this question. Rather, a microscopic analysis of social interactions, such as conversation/discourse analysis, proxemics, or video analysis, is necessary. Based on this idea, I have elucidated some of the features of HG social interactions in past CHAGSs. Some my colleagues also conducted research focusing on their interaction. I will first summarize the results obtained from these studies. Together with these results and presentation at this session, I will discuss on what is meant by “individuals” and “others” of HGs, thereby providing insights into lifestyles in our societies.

 

1:50 – 2:10 PM. Toward a new social interaction analysis of hunter-gatherer societies: the case of Baka

Koji Sonoda, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Short abstract: Through the case of Baka, this paper explores a possible pathway of analysis in terms of social interaction in the everyday life of hunter-gatherer societies.

Long abstract: In this paper, I explore a possible pathway of analysis in terms of social interaction in the everyday life of hunter-gatherer societies. As Izumi (2006) has observed, the Kyoto school of anthropology in Japan has studied and developed ethnographic approaches to conversation analysis. These studies have especially focussed on Kalahari and Congo Basin hunter-gatherer societies. The following are the issues I would like to consider in the social interaction analysis of hunter-gatherer societies: (1) how we cope with ethnographic contexts accepted as self-evident by researchers when we analyse particular talk-in-interactions; (2) how the analysis serves as a bridge between microphenomena, such as social interactions in everyday life, and ‘macrophenomena’ like egalitarianism (even though this phenomenon does not apply to every hunter-gatherer society); (3) and how we approach social changes faced by these societies. Considering these issues, I analyse the effectiveness of social interaction analysis in describing social organization through the case of Baka.

Reference: Izumi, H. 2006. Towards the Neo-Kyoto School: History and Development of the Primatological Approach of the Kyoto School in Japanese Primatology and Ecological Anthropology. Occasional Papers No. 101. Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh.

 

2:10 – 2:30 PM. Musical synchronization in the daily conversations of the Baka in the Southeast Cameroon

Yushi Yanohara, Kyoto University

Short abstract: In this paper, the audio-visual footage of daily conversation of the Baka is compared against the songs performed during ritual ceremonies. The recordings are analysed to verify the similarities between the musical synchronization seen in both situations.

Long abstract: This paper analyses the musical synchronization in the daily conversation of the Baka in the southeast of Cameroon. In the previous researches on the conversation analysis of the Baka, there is a tendency to focus on the verbal contents. The detailed data analysis focusing on the phonetic aspects of their conversations have been regarded less crucial. The researcher have captured several situations, especially where only female adults and children are gathered inside the house, where the Baka will more often activate musical/acoustic intersections than exchanging verbal contents of information. In those moments, synchronization of utterance and sudden mutation of laughter were frequently seen. In this paper, the audio-visual footage of daily conversation of the Baka is compared against the songs performed during ritual ceremonies to verify the similarities in the musical synchronization.

 

 

 

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