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How Useful is the "Hunter-gatherer" Label in Explaining the Diversification of Indigenous Australian Societies?

Abstract : The hunter-gatherer / non-hunter-gatherer distinction has had profound impacts on the anthropological discipline, instituting academic, theoretical, and even methodological cleavages with durable consequences. Even though many researchers working with so-called h/g societies underline the arbitrary character of the distinction, it has survived largely for pedagogic reasons, as some have said; but also, because no viable alternative has been suggested. More critically, some of the correlations or even causalities that had been developed by cultural ecology and certain materialist approaches in relation to h/g societies still inform anthropological, but also archaeological and to some extent linguistic work. In this paper I will return to some of the problems the h/g category has produced, illustrating how the typology has become an intellectual prison, a fait accompli, prohibiting the elaboration of different and ethnographically more constructive means of explaining historical processes of diversification than through the sole mobilisation of the still so-called Neolithic revolution. The diversity and pragmatics of Australian Aboriginal kinship systems will be the starting point to suggest possible scenarios of cultural and historical diversification that also reflect findings by archaeologists and that correlates with other social characteristics such as totemism, land tenure or naming systems.
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Contributor : Laurent Dousset Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, October 10, 2021 - 2:17:13 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 10:59:17 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-03372318, version 1



Laurent Dousset. How Useful is the "Hunter-gatherer" Label in Explaining the Diversification of Indigenous Australian Societies?. Synapse Trans-Disciplinary Seminar Series, Sep 2021, Canberra, Australia. ⟨hal-03372318⟩



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