Hunter Gatherer Research

Moving between camps

Towards an integrative approach to forager mobility

Hunter Gatherer Research (2015), 1, (4), 473–494.

Abstract

This article provides an outline of a theory of hunter-gatherer mobility that synthesizes a diversity of existing ways of explaining forager mobility. The three approaches considered in detail are Optimal Foraging Theory, Decision Tree Modelling and Decision Making Pragmatics. The strengths and weaknesses of these approaches are summarized and examples from hunter-gatherer ethnography are given, in particular with reference to field research with Hai//om San in southern Africa. It is argued that there are ideas from abductive reasoning, non-monotonic logics and conversational analysis available which are promising to provide a more appropriate picture of mobility and other features of forager society since they incorporate continual revisions to decisions and explanations that are characteristic for this domain of research.

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Widlok, Thomas