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An interdisciplinary research collaborative
investigating the pasts, presents, and futures of
forager & mixed-subsistence children's lives
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Our first poster on learning to share among hunter-gatherers was recently presented at SHARING the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers at the University of Cambridge (Sept. 20th-21st 2016). 

Abstract: Sharing, often considered a foundational schema for hunter-gatherers, acts as a leveling mechanism, systematically disengaging people from property and therefore from the potential for property to create dependency. While most studies on sharing tend to focus on the distribution of large game meat, the demand to share includes a great variety of food items and objects, as well as the sharing of time, actions, spaces and experiences. Though many studies have explored the importance of sharing to hunter-gatherers, few have examined how sharing beliefs and behaviours are transmitted across generations. Furthermore, to our knowledge, no studies have employed a cross-cultural approach to understand how, when, and from whom hunter-gatherer children learn to share. To address this gap, we perform a meta-ethnography, which allows us to compare quantitative and qualitative publications on this topic. Seven publications met our inclusion criteria, and these focused on Hadza, Aka, San, Nayaka and Batek children. Our results indicate that sharing is actively taught, starting from infancy. Mothers play a central role in teaching sharing behaviours in early life. In early and middle childhood, other children play a prominent role in teaching sharing behaviours, through instruction, commands, participation, and norm enforcement. Through participation in the daily activity of food distribution, sharing knowledge is also imparted. These results contribute to the debate regarding whether teaching occurs in the forager context, by highlighting that teaching sharing behaviours occurs throughout childhood. Furthermore, the fact that forager children transmit sharing behaviours to others highlights that they are not passive, but instead contribute to constructing cultural norms and meaning. Further research should investigate how children’s participation in teaching sharing behaviours enables them to internalize these behaviours, making them more competent social agents.

Founder Noa Lavi and archeologist David Friesem organized a successful conference on SHARING the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers.

The conference took place on September 20th-21st at the University of Cambridge. A list of speakers can be found here. 

Conference Abstract: The aim of the conference is bringing together archaeologists and anthropologists to engage in a discussion concerning the study of hunter-gatherers societies in the past and in the present. In particular, we wish to re-open and re-examine the well-known concept of ‘sharing’ as a practice, notion and experience which hold meanings far beyond the mere distribution of meat or material goods. Being first and foremost a practice, sharing can be more easily observed and studied. Its significant value to us as researchers lies in its ability to open a window to more intangible aspects of life such as sociality, values, relationships and social, self and environmental perceptions. People share food and objects as well as time, knowledge, beliefs, rituals, work, help, spaces, actions, their selves and more. The idea of sharing (coupled with the notion of non-sharing) is ever present in the everyday of the people we call hunter-gatherers. It shapes relations and decisions, dwelling environments, patterns of use of space and material cultures.

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