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(P39) Hunter-gatherer education

Convenors: Jennifer Hays, Arctic University of Norway - Tromsø; Velina Ninkova, Arctic University of Norway; Edmond Dounias, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development; Sidsel Saugestad, Arctic University of Norway 

Discussant: to be decided 

Abstract: This panel will address the multi-faceted challenges that education entails for hunter-gatherers. What strategic approaches do hunter-gatherers employ to gain access to skills and knowledge that they need? Can a research-based understanding lead to better support for educational self-determination? 

Keywords: education, indigenous knowledge, school, rights, livelihoods 

Format: standard panel 

Precirculated papers: yes 

This panel invites papers focusing on the role of education in the lives of contemporary hunter-gatherers. By education we are referring broadly to intergenerational knowledge transmission that is practiced by all cultures, and also more narrowly to formal education—and to the inter-relations between these spheres. For hunter-gatherer communities today, questions related to education in both senses are inseparable from their broader struggles for survival and recognition of their rights. Cultural forms of education are based on knowledge transmission approaches that are deeply integrated into the social structures, values, cosmology, and subsistence strategies of the group. As traditional livelihoods and resources are increasingly narrowed, formal education is one route to increased economic opportunity, and ideally provides access to dominant languages and other skills needed to negotiate for their rights. Global development goals of “education for all” present schooling as the solution to improving livelihoods. However, cultural disparities and enormous structural barriers make successful participation in formal schools extremely challenging. Alternative education projects have been developed in some communities, with varying degrees of success. 

This panel will address the multi-faceted issues that education entails for hunter-gatherer communities. We invite papers addressing, but not limited to, the following interconnected questions and issues: 

How are hunter-gatherer communities engaging with formal education systems?

What kinds of alternative projects are in place?

Can traditional knowledge transmission methods be integrated into available formal education systems?

What does “western” pedagogical research have to contribute?

What strategic approaches are hunter-gatherer communities employing to gain access to the skills and knowledge that they deem appropriate for their needs?

How is the concept of “education” connected to broader issues, including realistic livelihood opportunities, land rights, and self-determination? 

This panel is connected to the establishment of the taskforce Hunter Gatherer Education Research and Advocacy Group under the ISHGR, which will be launched at CHAGS 12. 




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