Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods: Evolutionary, Developmental, and Cultural Perspectives

Overview

In the vast anthropological literature devoted to hunter-gatherer societies, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the place of hunter-gatherer children. Children often represent 40 percent of hunter-gatherer populations, thus nearly half the population is omitted from most hunter-gatherer ethnographies and research. This volume is designed to bridge the gap in our understanding of the daily lives, knowledge, and development of hunter-gatherer children.

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Overview

In the vast anthropological literature devoted to hunter-gatherer societies, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the place of hunter-gatherer children. Children often represent 40 percent of hunter-gatherer populations, thus nearly half the population is omitted from most hunter-gatherer ethnographies and research. This volume is designed to bridge the gap in our understanding of the daily lives, knowledge, and development of hunter-gatherer children.

The twenty-six contributors to Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods use three general but complementary theoretical approaches--evolutionary, developmental, cultural--in their presentations of new and insightful ethnographic data. For instance, the authors employ these theoretical orientations to provide the first systematic studies of hunter-gatherer children's hunting, play, infant care by children, weaning and expressions of grief. The chapters focus on understanding the daily life experiences of children, and their views and feelings about their lives and cultural change. Chapters address some of the following questions: why does childhood exist, who cares for hunter-gatherer children, what are the characteristic features of hunter-gatherer children's development and what are the impacts of culture change on hunter-gatherer child care?

The book is divided into five parts. The first section provides historical, theoretical and conceptual framework for the volume; the second section examines data to test competing hypotheses regarding why childhood is particularly long in humans; the third section expands on the second section by looking at who cares for hunter-gatherer children; the fourth section explores several developmental issues such as weaning, play and loss of loved ones; and, the final section examines the impact of sedentism and schools on hunter-gatherer children.

This pioneering volume will help to stimulate further research and scholarship on hunter-gatherer childhoods, thereby advancing our understanding of the way of life that characterized most of human history and of the processes that may have shaped both human development and human evolution.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A rare and welcomed read which enables a wide window into this research current as a whole.”—Esben Leifsen, Reviews in Anthropology

"The highly polished result contains much of interest to anyone interested in hunter-gatherer lifeways, the anthropology of children, and the evolution of human life history."—Journal of Anthropological Research

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Barry S. Hewlett is professor of anthropology at Washington State University, Vancouver. He has conducted research with Congo Basin hunter-gatherers since 1973 and is co-editor of Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods (with Michael Lamb) and author of Intimate Fathers.

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Table of Contents

I Theoretical and conceptual issues
1 Emerging issues in the study of hunter-gatherer children 3
2 Hunter-gatherer infancy and childhood : the !Kung and others 19
3 Comes the child before man : how cooperative breeding and prolonged postweaning dependence shaped human potential 65
4 Studying children in "hunter-gatherer" societies : reflections from a Nayaka perspective 92
II Why does childhood exist?
Introduction 105
5 What makes a competent adult forager? 109
6 Martu children's hunting strategies in the Western Desert, Australia 129
7 Growing up Mikea : children's time allocation and tuber foraging in southwestern Madagascar 147
III Who cares for hunter-gatherer children?
Introduction 175
8 Who tends Hadza children? 177
9 Child caretakers among Efe foragers of the Ituri Forest 191
10 Older Hadza men and women as helpers : residence data 214
11 Juvenile responses to household ecology among the Yora of Peruvian Amazonia 237
12 The growth and kinship resources of Ju/'hoansi children 262
IV Social, emotional, cognitive, and motor development
Introduction 285
13 Mother-infant interactions among the !Xun : analysis of gymnastic and breastfeeding behaviors 289
14 Weanling emotional patterns among the Bofi foragers of Central Africa : the role of maternal availability and sensitivity 309
15 Vulnerable lives : the experience of death and loss among the Aka and Ngandu adolescents of the Central African Republic 322
16 Play among Baka children in Cameroon 343
V Culture change and future research
Introduction 363
17 Infant care among the sedentarized Baka hunter-gatherers in southeastern Cameroon 365
18 Deforesting among Andamanese children : political economy and history of schooling 385
19 Reflections on hunter-gatherer childhoods 407
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