Societies in Transition: Past and Present

enidkenyaabstract_1Around the end of last year, we returned from our 12-month fieldwork assignments in Kenya and Namibia, where we conducted historical and anthropological research among groups that are either currently hunter-gatherers, or were recently so.

Enid Guene

Enid Guene, Project E3

What we discovered was a situation detailed often by scholars in the field of modern hunter-gatherer research, that of marginalised people who occupy a state of transition between various forms of life, one without a necessarily clear “direction of development”. Consequently these communities often display a complex set of identities and activities, caught as they are between hunting and gathering and other forms of livelihood. As well as this, hunter-gatherers play a role in the different, at times contradictory, understandings of who they are or are supposed to be in the 21st Century. These understandings come from themselves, their neighbours, the nation state and various international bodies. Hunter-gatherers also have a specific role for us as researchers, and have been used as symbols and representatives throughout the history of the human sciences.


Charlie Goodwin, Project E3

One of the biggest tasks in conducting social research with living people is that one often finds that the ideal situations and even major topics of research change substantially over the course of the fieldwork. This can mean that the initial work involved in writing up this data is to reinterpret some of the most basic ideas we went into the field with. We will detail some of the tools available to social scientists in this context, as well as some of the methodological challenges we have encountered, and highlight the patterns which have come to light over the course of this work. Here we will present some of our findings, and report on hunter-gatherer situations as they exist in the present.

Event Information:

Date, Time: 18/01/2016, 14:00 h – 15:30 h

Location: Room S12, Seminargebäude (Building 106), Universitätsstraße 37 , Cologne

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