Pauline Wiessner researches communities of hunter-gatherers. She is particularly interested in the questions of how relationships of reciprocity and social networks are used to reduce risk but on her way to studying these questions she branches out into medical anthropology, ethno-archaeology, ethology, ecology, warfare, ritual, oral history, as well as modern and traditional court systems. She has lived in Vietnam after the war, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and in Southern Africa too, with the Bushmen, whose language she speaks fluently… “I am still learning”, she told me full of sincerity. Then, she says something in kung and the whole of Africa seems to be contained in that sound, in a verbal nutshell.
When she received the International Award of the Spanish Geographical Society, Wiessner delighted her audience in Madrid with a summary of her life. “I spent my childhood”, she started, “at the end of a rope”. Leer el resto de esta entrada »