Social and Epistemological Dimensions of Learning Among Nayaka Hunter-Gatherers
This chapter explores patterns of knowing and learning, among Nayaka hunter-gatherers (South India). I will argue that knowing and learning is embedded within two main contexts. One is personal experimentation, which often involves processes of trial and error. The second context is engagement with others in which learning is not a singularized event and knowledge is not objectified out of actual experience and actual relations. In both contexts, learning is characterized by firsthand experience, which includes adults’ appreciation of the need; children have to learn for themselves through direct experience. The chapter draws special attention to the importance of the epistemological aspect in social learning, the use of questions and patterns of classification among the Nayaka and other hunter-gatherer groups.
KeywordsSocial learning Epistemology Nayaka Hunter-gatherers Childhood
I thank the Nayaka, who accepted me into their lives and enabled me to learn through shared experiences about the way they get to know their world. I thank Nurit Bird-David for her helpful and constructive comments. I thank Peter Gardner for additional constructive comments and for his consistent encouragement to write about this matter. His encouragement played a vital and central role in the preparation of this chapter. I would also like to thank Hideaki Terashima and Barry Hewlett for setting up the superb workshop on social learning among hunter-gatherers in Kobe Gakuin University. This workshop was a true source for inspiration and idea exchange. I would also like to thank them for their helpful comments.
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