This paper presents a materialist research strategy for the study of historical processes of change among hunter-gatherers, as they become incorporated into industrial society. Two aspects are discussed: 1) a theoretical model of sociocultural systems for categorising phenomena, and 2) a theoretical principle for identifying causal relationships. The approach is illustrated with a case study on the transformations of an Alaskan Inupiaq community, touching on several aspects of sociocultural life, including population, subsistence, technology, social organisation, economy, and politics. The focus lies on the changing role of the hunting economy and its related institutions.
Hunting and gathering continues to constitute specific forms of social and cultural organisation, against the backdrop of state and economy driven notions of 'development' and expanding patterns of extractive industries. This issue of the Austrian Journal of Development Studies collects perspectives, from a variety of continents, on changing cultures and social practices that have emerged over the last century in hunter-gatherer societies. Colonisation and rapid industrialisation have connected remote places to global centres, and new relations – in a broad variety of forms – between local communities, corporations and the state have emerged.
Russian hunters-fishermen-tradesmen went to Svalbard during the 18th and the first half of the 19th century to hunt for marine mammals and fur bearing animals and were away from home for over a year. They were under considerable stress because of the need to be economically successful and to survive in the High Arctic. What were their food security strategies? How did they balance the subsistence hunt with the commercial hunt? In this article, data from different disciplines are used to analyse the food security strategies and explicate how they managed to balance the subsistence hunt with the commercial one in the High Arctic.
Extractive industries promise to bring prosperity to indigenous communities in order to obtain their consent to operate. While many of these promises are left unfulfilled, mining operations adversely impact these communities’ natural and social environments. We document how the Philippine Agta resist mining, but also attempt to reclaim the benefits they were promised by the mining company. By elaborating the complexities of implementing compensation mechanisms, we also bring to light their problematic underlying logic. Drawing on the concept of equivalence (Li 2011), this leads us to question the validity of the assumption that long-term environmental and social impacts can be compensated for by short-term material benefits.
International attention on the Arctic, a region shared today by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, is increasing, and the region is slowly becoming a ‘hot topic’ in international affairs. In recent years, all Arctic states have published policies and strategies where they outline their objectives and goals. In this paper, these documents are analysed following a broadened approach to security that takes into consideration state-centred or traditional (that is, politico-military and politico-economic) as well as non-traditional, comprehensive or rights- based (human, societal, environmental and socioeconomic) aspects of security. This non-traditional approach, which is increasingly being addressed in some Arctic policies and strategies, switches the focus of attention from state to non- state actors, and favours the inclusion in the political agenda of otherwise often understated topics.
Nick Kelesau was born in 1965 into a nomadic hunter gatherer family in Sarawak, Borneo, East Malaysia. Around 1970 the family settled and founded the village of Long Kerong. In 1985, areas around Long Kerong were logged off, which created great difficulties for hunting and gathering. Nick Kelesau’s father, Kelesau Naan, was the headman of the village at that time. Due to his resistance against the logging, he was arrested and put in jail. In 2007 Kelesau Naan unexpectedy disappeared. His bones were found many months later in the forest. Following his father ́s activism, Nick Kelesau quit his job and continues resistance against logging to this day.