Human Nature

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 58-80

First online:

The effects of residential locality on parental and alloparental investment among the Aka foragers of the central African Republic

  • Courtney L. MeehanAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington State University Email author 

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In this paper I examine the intracultural variability of parental and alloparental caregiving among the Aka foragers of the Central African Republic. It has been suggested that maternal kin offer higher frequencies of allocare than paternal kin and that maternal investment in infants will decrease when alloparental assistance is provided. Behavioral observations were conducted on 15 eight- to twelve-monthold infants. The practice of brideservice and the flexibility of Aka residence patterns offered a means to test the effect of maternal residence on parental and alloparental investment. There was significant variation in the frequency of investment and who supplied care to infants depending on whether mothers resided with their kin or their husbands’ kin. However, in spite of the variation in allocare, when all categories of caregivers were examined collectively, infants received similar overall levels of care.

Key words

Aka foragers Alloparenting Hunter-Gatherers Infant care Parental investment