empowering hunter-gatherer societies – celebrating human potentiality – promoting hunter-gatherer research



On the eve of the 13th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (University College Dublin, 28 June - 1 July 2022), Thanos Kouravelos has come up with a major contribution to hunter-gatherer studies in the form of a comprehensive bibliography on hunting and gathering peoples. This bibliography, which covers the diversity of hunter-gatherers around the world, is ground-breaking it its coverage. It could not have come at a better time. Hunter-gatherers are facing a variety of challenges – from COVID-19 to wide-ranging losses of land to private companies and state governments. At the same time, it covers some of the successes of those promoting rights of hunting and gathering peoples, including legal cases involving land rights in places as diverse as Australia, Canada, and the Kalahari of southern Africa.  The bibliography will add substantially to those found in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers (Lee & Daly 1999), the detailed book by Lewis Binford on hunting and gathering societies (Constructing Frames of Reference), and Robert Kelly’s comprehensive volume (The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers). Mr. Kouravelos has made sure that he has surveyed all the recent books on hunting and gathering peoples as well as some of the classic works such as those of Franz Boas, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Norman Tindale, Alfred Kroeber, Jane Goodale, Julian Steward, and many others.  He looks at works from many facets of social anthropology ranging from structural functionalism to cultural ecology and from evolutionary anthropology to optimal foraging theory. He incorporates revisionist perspectives on hunting and gathering societies which have raised questions even about the utility of the concept of hunter-gatherers. What is especially useful about the way that Mr. Kouravelos has approached work on hunting and gathering societies is the various debates that exist in insightful ways. Some of the more recent work on education and learning among Batwa societies in the Congo Basin of Central Africa is included, as are discussions of wayfinding and territoriality and changes over time in land use among hunter-gatherers in North America, Africa, and Asia. He treats the full continuum of hunter-gatherer societies from small-scale to middle range societies, looking at issues such as leadership, sharing, kinship, cooperation, conflict, and exchange. This work, which has been a major focus of Mr. Kouravelos for some 10 years, will undoubtedly contribute substantially not only to courses on hunter-gatherers but also to the efforts of non-government organizations, both indigenous and international, who are seeking to improve the lives and ensure the well-being of the full range of contemporary hunting and gathering societies. 


Robert K. Hitchcock

Department of Anthropology

University of New Mexico