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date: 24 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Approximately forty contemporary hunter-gatherer societies survive in the increasingly deforested region of South East Asia. Despite the important place of hunter-gatherers in anthropological theory-making, detailed ethnographic information about contemporary South East Asian foraging societies can be difficult to locate. This article reviews key issues surrounding the cultural identity of South East Asian hunter-gatherers, including ethnolinguistic group identities and Eurocentric ideas of 'pure' foragers. The recent debates over whether 'pure' foragers were able to live in tropical forests is reviewed, finding that the debate's aftermath provoked scholars to further explore the nature of prehistoric environments and to appreciate of the diversity of forager cultural adaptations to different ecological conditions. One outcome of the debates has been a shift towards exploring contemporary hunter-gatherers as 'bricoleurs' who flexibly shift their economic practices to accommodate changing, resource-depleted environments.

Keywords: South East Asia, hunter-gatherers, foragers, identity, bricoleurs

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