This award to Dr. Barry S. Hewlett (Washington State University) provides support for the International Conference on Congo Basin Hunter-Gatherers, being held in Montpellier, France, in September 2010. Research on Congo Basin hunter-gatherer peoples (formerly referred to as "Pygmies") has increased dramatically in recent years, in part because they comprise the largest remaining hunter-gatherer groups in the world. It is also a critical time for Congo Basin hunter-gatherers, who are being marginalized culturally and economically by the increased market integration of central Africa, and by the creation of national game parks and reserves on their traditional lands.

This conference is being convened because there is no other interdisciplinary venue for sharing research results internationally. Researchers at the conference will present their findings on a wide range of topics, including: the culture histories of Congo Basin hunter-gatherers; hunter-gatherer relations with nearby farming societies; the socialization of hunter-gatherer children into egalitarian sharing and traditional knowledge systems; and theories of intracultural and cross-cultural diversity among hunter-gatherers. The conference will also address broader issues such as: the bushmeat trade, indigenous peoples views of climate change, and the impacts of conservation and human rights non-governmental organizations on local people. A variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods are utilized to address the applied issues and answer the broad range of research questions.

This conference is important because it will contribute significantly to understanding the hunter-gatherer way of life that characterized most of human history. It also will provide a research foundation to implement culturally sensitive and appropriate assistance tom marginalized hunter-gatherer peoples. In addition, the conference will promote international research collaboration and capacity building by including researchers from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Additional financial support is being provided by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Kyoto University (Japan), the Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement (France), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), Center for Fonctional and Evolutionary Ecology (France), and Washington State University.

Project Report

The NSF award supported African hunter-gatherer scholars participation in international conferences. African scholars fron the Congo Basin and surrounding areas where the few remaining hunter-gatherers live seldom have the means or university support to attend international conferences. Their participation at international meetings is essential because they conduct important research the international community seldom hears about and they are often responsible for implementing the outcomes of basic research (e.g., what to do about the "bushmeat" trade, how to control outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases that occur in areas with hunter-gatherers, conservation of tropical forests where hunter-gatherers live, or human rights issues with African hunter-gatherers). The international forums also provide opportunities to establish and develop international research collaborations between scholars in developed and developing countries. The award supported four African scholars participation at the International Conference on Congo Basin Hunter-Gatherer in Montpellier, France, in 2011 and two African scholars participation in the International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies in Liverpool, UK, in 2013. Several of the African scholars were able to publish their research from these meetings in international journals or book chapters and several of them initiated collaborative research projects with scholars from developed countries, including the United States. Their participation contributed to their professional development and the capacity building of countries in the Congo Basin.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Jeffrey Mantz
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Washington State University
United States
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