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“Hunting Otherwise”

Women’s Hunting in Two Contemporary Forager-Horticulturalist Societies

Abstract

Although subsistence hunting is cross-culturally an activity led and practiced mostly by men, a rich body of literature shows that in many small-scale societies women also engage in hunting in varied and often inconspicuous ways. Using data collected among two contemporary forager-horticulturalist societies facing rapid change (the Tsimane’ of Bolivia and the Baka of Cameroon), we compare the technological and social characteristics of hunting trips led by women and men and analyze the specific socioeconomic characteristics that facilitate or constrain women’s engagement in hunting. Results from interviews on daily activities with 121 Tsimane’ (63 women and 58 men) and 159 Baka (83 women and 76 men) show that Tsimane’ and Baka women participate in subsistence hunting, albeit using different techniques and in different social contexts than men. We also found differences in the individual and household socioeconomic profiles of Tsimane’ and Baka women who hunt and those who do not hunt. Moreover, the characteristics that differentiate hunter and non-hunter women vary from one society to the other, suggesting that gender roles in relation to hunting are fluid and likely to change, not only across societies, but also as societies change.

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Acknowledgments

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) / ERC grant agreement FP7-261971-LEK. We extend our deepest gratitude to the Baka and the Tsimane’ for their friendship, hospitality, and collaboration. We thank A. Ambassa and E. Simpoh for data collection among the Baka, and V. Cuata, P. Pache, M. Pache, I. V. Sánchez, and S. Huditz for data collection among the Tsimane’. We thank CIFOR, CBIDSI and the IRD for logistical assistance during fieldwork, and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. Reyes-García acknowledges financial support from ERC (Agreement 771056). This work contributes to the “María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence” (MdM-2015-0552).

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Reyes-García, V., Díaz-Reviriego, I., Duda, R. et al. “Hunting Otherwise”. Hum Nat 31, 203–221 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-020-09375-4

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Keywords

  • Baka (Cameroon)
  • Gender
  • Small-scale societies
  • Social-ecological transformations
  • Tsimane’ (Bolivia)