Akira Takada, anthropologue et professeur associé à la Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS) de l'Université de Kyoto, est invité par Rémy Bazenguissa EHESS / IMAF. Spécialiste de la question de l'enfance dans la société chasseurs-cueilleurs, ses études portent notamment sur le cas de l'éthnie San (bushman) en Afrique du sud. Ses recherches actuelles s'inscrivent dans les quatre domaines d'étude suivants : l'enfance et les interactions entre les jeunes ; l'environnement et la transmission des techniques traditionnelles ; questions écologiques ; la transformation de l'ethnicité.


The cultural and ecological foundations of ethnicity among the !Xun of North-central Namibia

Dans le cadre des séminaires conjoints de Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga "Guerres électorales ou violences électorales ?" et de la Fondation du Japon, CRAA-ETRE ("Comprendre les Relations Afrique-Asie : Espace transversal de Recherche et d'Enseignement").

The people generally referred to as the San are thought to be indigenous to southern Africa and actually consist of various groups distinguished by language, locale, and practice. Among them, the Ju|'hoan lived in the hearth of the Kalahari have been studied most. In the meanwhile, the !Xun of North-central Namibia, a neighboring San group of Ju|’hoan, failed to attract attention as an independent research subject. Although people who seem to be !Xun appear in previous studies, the distinction between these people and the Ju|’hoan is vague. Nonetheless, in the context of contemporary studies, which require us to consider the San ethnicity from the perspective of its historical relationship with its neighboring ethnic groups and with the state, the !Xun provide valuable research findings. In this presentation, I will analyze (1) the kinship and naming terminologies of the !Xun, (2) the historical transition of their ethnicity, (3) the interplay between their ethnicity and familial/kin relationships, and (4) the reorganization of environmental features that affect on child socialization. This attempt provides an unparalleled case study for promoting the regional structural comparison (Barnard 1992) of San. Combining all these elements, moreover, this study delineates the cultural and ecological foundations of ethnicity of the !Xun and thereby provide a valuable research perspective in the emerging anthropology of lifeworld.

  • Mardi 21 février 2017, de 15h à 17h, salle de réunion, IMAF, 2e étage, 96 bd Raspail 75006 Paris.

Practices of early cultural learning: Responsibility formation in caregiver-infant interaction among the G|ui/G||ana of Botswana.

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Maya Gratier, Laboratoire Ethologie, Cognition, Développement, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense.


This presentation establishes a theoretical perspective on language socialization before speech and clarifies the ethnographic distinctiveness of caregiver-infant interactions among the G|ui/G||ana, two neighboring groups of the San. A G|ui/G||ana mother usually nurses her infant for a few minutes at a time, with short intervals between nursing. Young infants react to the proximal context using a narrow variety of actions, whereas the mother was involved in a much wider participation framework, reacting to the infant only after a fretful movement. This is one reason for the distinctive nursing pattern. Moreover, infant sucking was negatively correlated with “gymnastic” behavior (standing or jumping on a caregiver’s lap). Caregivers frequently induced infant stepping movements, created rhythms in caregiver-child interactions, and thereby made interactions pleasurable. As such, corporeality is omnipresent in caregiver-infant interactions. The G|ui/G||ana have several language genres, which introduce communicative musicality in caregiver-infant interactions. The |ii of tsando, a song-for-infants, makes use of melody to accommodate infant actions and often involves infants in multi-party interactions. Analysis demonstrates that “what might appear to be the transparent physicality of the body” may evolve through the history of practitioners’ involvement with “a complex, nuanced interplay of social and cultural forces (Hanks, 1996: 248)”. Facilitated by these forces, even a young infant produces responses according to the expectancy of the caregiver. These early forms of “responsibility” pave the way for the infant to take part in more complicated interactions in later life.

  • Vendredi 24 février 2017 (horaire à définir).

Kyoto School of Ecological Anthropology

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Eloi Ficquet et Benoit Hazard Atelier ouvert des Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines. Centre de recherche « CLÉO - Centre pour l'édition électronique ouverte ». 

  • Vendredi 10 mars 2017, 14h à 17h, salle de réunion, IMAF, 2e étage, 96 bd Raspail 75006 Paris.

Participation in rhythm: !Xun socialization through singing and dancing activities

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Hiroko Norimatsu. Laboratoire CLLE-LTC UMR 5263 Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès.

Previous studies have shown that Ju|'hoan (a group of the San) children were not weaned until they were four years of age. After this long period of nursing, children would then shift their strong attachment to a multi-aged child group. These characteristics are considered intrinsic to a nomadic lifestyle that requires a long period of socialization. I conducted research in North-Central Namibia among the !Xun, neighbors of the Ju|'hoan with close agro-pastoral associations, to examine child-group interactions among the San. Today, !Xun children are usually weaned during the second year after birth, and the multi-aged child group subsequently plays a significant role in childcare. !Xun child groups usually operate outside of adult supervision. The singing of, and dancing to, songs, most of which originated in agro-pastoral societies, are major activities for girls’ groups. !Xun children incorporate these new aspects into their play. In this presentation, I will analyze how young children start engaging in such “multiparty embodied participation frameworks” (C. Goodwin, 2002) of song/dance activity. The results will show that although child groups facilitate rapid changes in San society, they also enable social re-integration. The active imitation observed in their activities contributes importantly to regenerating their social organization.

  • Mercredi 15 mars 2017, 10h à 11h, salle D30 (MDR).

Environmental perception and wayfinding practices in the Central Kalahari

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Frédéric Joulian, Une autre façon de raconter. III.

Two groups of San, the G|ui and G||ana, have lived in the central part of the Kalahari Desert, although Botswana’s development program has had a major impact on their lifestyle. Their perception of their environment is complemented by a multi-scaled folk knowledge, through which they fuse “nature” with “culture”. Such knowledge enables them to live a nomadic lifestyle within their immense living area, which is now encompassed within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). I will clarify that the key points regarding their moving strategies are (1) a keen perception of ground conditions to avoid obstacles, such as burrows of animals and thorny plants; (2) an immense knowledge of specific trees, used as landmarks in the bushveld; (3) an understanding of woodlands and basins as nodes in the environment (these areas provide valuable resources for the G|ui and G||ana and serve as campsites during their nomadic travels); and (4) a conceptualization of sequences of woodlands and/or basins with reference to ecological features that are sometimes employed as a route for nomadic movement. These classes of folk knowledge are actually integrated within the practices of wayfinding. G|ui/G||ana use of folk knowledge is distinctive in its interplay between the accumulation of empirical observations and the use of embodied imagination in a changing environment. Since their relocation outside of the CKGR, the lifestyle of the G|ui/G||ana has entered a new phase. However, through their imagination and active engagement with their environment, they are able to apply their folk knowledge flexibly in their new environment and manage their new circumstances with the keen sense of foragers.

  • Lundi 20 mars 2017, 10h à 12h (séance supplémentaire).