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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The diets of Arctic and subarctic hunter-gatherers are the source of perennial theoretically relevant questions and debates, for example on cooking and raw food, the relative importance of protein in diet and its effects, the degree of labour specialization, and modes of food-sharing and trading. This chapter outlines the use of ethnographic enquiry to best inform archaeological interpretations in the Arctic and subarctic, with vignettes from the ethnography of northern Siberia. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of methods typically used to study diet among contemporary hunter-gatherers. Development of quantitative data on food consumption is useful for developing information on seasonality, gender, taboos, and other kinds of effects on behaviour and data sets suited for comparative research. Ethnographers in the Arctic and subarctic have faced particular challenges with some observational methods, since the construction of permanent communities for indigenous populations over the last fifty to one hundred years.

Keywords: division of labour, raw food, taboo, trade goods, food sharing

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