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(P40) Everyday social interactions of hunter-gatherers

Convenor: Daiji Kimura, Kyoto University 

Abstract: To clarify the unique social interactional orientations of hunter–gatherers, it is necessary to adopt a microscopic approach, such as conversation/video analysis. We would like to discuss research on HGs performed from this perspective to explore what their attitudes can teach us about our current way of living. 

Keywords: social interaction, conversation analysis, video analysis, multconnectedness, “individuals” and “others” 

Format: standard panel 

Precirculated papers: none required 


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. 




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