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CHAGS History

T-shirt featuring the logo for the Fairbanks Conference. Photo by B. Winterhalder

1966 Chicago Man the Hunter
1978 Paris CHAGS I
1980 Quebec CHAGS II
1983 Bad Homburg CHAGS III
1986 London CHAGS IV
1988 Darwin CHAGS V
1990 Fairbanks CHAGS VI
1993 Moscow CHAGS VII
1998 Osaka CHAGS VIII
2003 Edinburgh CHAGS IX
2013 Liverpool CHAGS X
2015 Vienna CHAGS XI

10th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS X), Liverpool, 25-28 June 2013

by Larry Barham

The 10th meeting of the Conference of Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS X) took place at the University of Liverpool, England in June 2013 with the support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the publisher of Before Farming. Two hundred delegates from 25 countries took part in this long-awaited revival of the CHAGS tradition of interdisciplinary gatherings. The theme of ‘Resilience and Vulnerability’ provided the focus for discussing the status of contemporary hunter-gatherers and the future of hunter-gatherer research.  Since the last meeting in 2002 the field of applied indigenous studies has continued to expand for which hunter-gatherer case studies remain invaluable. A new generation of evolutionary anthropologists has also emerged with innovative comparative approaches based on hunter-gatherer data.  These differing approaches were brought together in the plenary sessions which began each day. Highlights included lively debate on the role of warfare and violence in human evolution and a large gathering of researchers on Dravidian-speaking hunter-gatherers. The conference concluded with a panel of young researchers, representing a spectrum of interests, discussing their hopes for the future of hunter-gatherer studies. The legacy of the Liverpool meeting has been the establishment of the International Society of Hunter Gatherer Research which will oversee the continuity of the CHAGS tradition (starting with Vienna 2015) and have its own journal (Hunter Gatherer Research to be launched in 2015). The field of hunter gatherer research is alive and well.

Conferences on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS): A brief history*

by Richard B. Lee

*Adapted from an entry by Richard Borshay Lee in the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (2014)

Over five decades, a series of spontaneously organized conferences brought together a global array of specialists on  hunting and gathering societies and became known as CHAGS. The series has brought together in roughly equal measure, archaeologists, social anthropologists, human evolutionists, and activists concerned about the fate and future of foraging peoples.

The ultimate origin of the CHAGS series of conferences dates to the mid 1960s when Irven DeVore and Richard Lee organized the 1966  “Man The Hunter” Conference at the University of Chicago, resulting in the 1968 book of the same name (Lee and DeVore 1968). The book was successful in launching an era of renewed interest in the anthropology of hunters and gatherers. Despite the title, a major thesis of the book was to emphasize the vital and hitherto underestimated importance of women’s work in hunter-gatherer societies and in human evolution overall, the ethnographic evidence for which amplifies and augments the archaeological record.

Man the Hunter had been intended as a one-off event, but a decade later in 1978, Maurice Godelier convened a follow-up meeting on hunters and gatherers in Paris at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Leacock and Lee 1982). The gathering which brought together scholars from six continents and both sides of the Cold War, was highlighted by an address by the Dean of the University of Yakutia, himself a member of the Yakut ethnic group. The Paris conference`s success indicated that there was a serious demand for conclaves about hunting and gathering peoples, heightened no doubt by the speed with which the remaining viable foragers were being absorbed into regional and global markets and nation-states.

Laval University hosted the next  conference, convened in historic Quebec City, Canada in 1980 chaired by Bernard Saladin d’Anglure and the late Bernard Arcand. It was at Laval that the term CHAGS was coined to provide a shorthand for what was becoming an ongoing enterprise.

CHAGS III unlike the two previous, was a by-invitation affair, convened in 1983 at Bad-Homburg, Germany under the auspices of Prof. I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt. Participants were drawn largely from supporters of the “revisionist” side of the emerging debate on the historical status of hunter-gatherers, particularly the Kalahari San (Schrire 1984).

There was a general consensus, that if CHAGS was to have long-term viability, it was important for there to be an open invitation, extended to all who demonstrated an interest in the subject, who had research to report, and were self-financed. This open-door policy was to set the tone for the next three decades of CHAGS gatherings.

CHAGS IV was held in 1986 at the London School of Economics and was convened by a U.K.-based committee that included Alan Barnard, Barbara Bender, Tim Ingold, Brian Morris, David Riches, and James Woodburn and resulted in two excellent publications (Ingold, Riches and Woodburn 1988a, 1988b).

The pace of convening CHAGS accelerated. After a two year interval, CHAGS V convened in Darwin, northern Australia in 1988, organized by the late Les Hiatt, and an active cohort of Australian-based anthropologists.

Only two years after Darwin, CHAGS VI was convened in Fairbanks, Alaska in June 1990. Organized by the late Linda Ellanna, the Fairbanks meetings, like those in Darwin, attracted a wide range of spokespersons from aboriginal communities and attracted a large contingent of Soviet anthropologists and archaeologists, who made the short flight from Provedinya in the Russian Far-East to Nome, Alaska (Burch and Ellanna 1994).

Given the enthusiasm of the Russian delegation, there was a consensus that CHAGS VII would convene in Russia. Under the leadership of Valery Tischkov and Victor Schnirelman, one of the largest CHAGS ever, opened in Moscow in August 1993. Delegates from fifteen countries experienced the excitement of Perestroika, as Russians experimented with new political formations (Biesele, Hitchcock and Schweitzer 1999).

CHAGS VIII was convened at the famous Japanese National Museum of Ethnology (“Minpaku”) in Osaka in October 1998. Chaired by Drs. Shuzo Koyama and Jiro Tanaka, it brought together over 200 scholars from many countries and resulted in publication of an important series of five volumes (see entries for Senri Ethnological Studies, below).

CHAGS IX returned to he United Kingdom and was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2003, chaired by Dr. Alan Barnard (Barnard 2004). A full decade passed before the next CHAGS was convened. But in June of 2013 CHAGS X was held at the University of Liverpool under the chairmanship of Prof. Larry Barham. Among the publications generated by CHAGS X is a special issue on hunter-gatherer violence and war, edited by Kirk Endicott for the Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research (in press).

The global research and activist communities concerned with foraging peoples, their history, present conditions and future prospects, look forward to CHAGS XI convening in Vienna, Austria in September 2015.

A wide range of themes have characterized the papers presented at CHAGS, with Archaeology sharing time with papers on Social Anthropology and increasingly papers on indigenous rights and political struggles.  CHAGS I through X have left a permanent legacy in the form of substantial volumes of collected papers listed below.

 

References         

Anderson, David and Kazunobu Ikeya 2001. Parks, Property and Power: Managing Hunting Practice and Identity within State Policy Regimes.   Senri Ethnological Studies No. 59. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. (VIII)

Barnard, Alan, Ed. 2004. Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology, and Anthropology. London: Berg. (IX)

Biesele, Megan, Robert Hitchcock and Peter Schweitzer Eds. 1999. Hunter-gatherers in the  Modern World. Providence: Berghahn. (VII)

Burch, Ernest, and Linda Ellanna Eds. 1994. Key Issues in Hunter-Gatherer Studies. Oxford: Berg. (VI)

Habu, Junko, John M. Saville, Shuzo Koyama, and Hitomi Hongo Eds. 2003. Hunter-gatherers of the North Pacific Rim. Senri Ethnological Studies No. 63. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. (VIII)

Ingold, Tim. David Riches and James Woodburn Eds. 1988a. Hunters and Gatherers, Vol. I: History Evolution and Social change. London: Berg. (IV)

Ingold, Tim. David Riches and James Woodburn Eds. 1988b. Hunters and Gatherers, Vol. II: Power, Property and Ideology. London: Berg. (IV)

Keen, Ian and Takako Yamada Eds. 2001. Identity and Gender in Hunting and Gathering Societies. Senri Ethnological Studies No. 56. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. (VIII)

Leacock, Eleanor and Richard Lee Eds. 1982. Politics and History in Band Societies. Cambridge and Paris: Cambridge University Press and La Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. (I)

Lee, Richard and Irven DeVore Eds. 1968. Man the Hunter. Chicago: Aldine.

Schrire, C. Ed. 1984  Past and Present in Hunter-gatherer Studies. San Francisco: Academic. (III)

Smith, Clare Ed. 2014. Encyclopedia of Global Archeology.  Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.

Stewart, Henry, Alan Barnard, and Keiichi Omura Eds. 2002 Self- and Other-Images of Hunter-Gatherers. Senri Ethnological Studies No. 60. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. (VIII)

Wenzel, George, Gretel Hovelsrude-Broda, and Nobuhiro Kishigami Eds. 2000. Senri Ethnological Studies No. 53. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology. (VIII)

 

Further Reading

Lee, Richard B. and Richard Daly Eds. 2004. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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