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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The largest remaining groups of mobile hunter-gatherers live in central Africa. More than 350,000 foragers (historically called 'Pygmies') from at least 13 distinct ethnolinguistic groups occupy diverse environments in the Congo Basin. This article begins with an overview of these groups, their cultural commonalities, and genetic relationships. Next, it summarizes the personal backgrounds and research trajectories of leading researchers from four national anthropological traditions: Britain, Japan, France, and the US. The Congo Basin has attracted particular kinds of researchers and they have influenced how the region's peoples are represented. The article compares and critiques traditions, illustrates the strengths of different approaches, and identifies common research biases. These biases include a strong emphasis on ecological studies, conducted predominantly by male researchers, representing a relatively narrow range of national traditions. The article reviews major topical and theoretical issues of the last 50 years of central African anthropology, suggesting avenues for future research.

Keywords: central Africa, Congo Basin, hunter-gatherers, Pygmies, traditions

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