Hunter Gatherer Research

Reciprocity practices of nomadic hunter-gatherer Rāute of Nepal

Hunter Gatherer Research (2018), 4, (2), 257–285.

Abstract

This paper focuses on reciprocity among the nomadic hunter-gatherer Rāute and sedentary groups, ie farmers and artisans. The Rāute’s reciprocal relation depends on social contracts, trust, territorial relations and residential propinquity. These facets of reciprocity can be accepted, denied or even cancelled. I argue that the Rāute are economically prosperous because of their regular exchange of woodenwares for grains and other necessary items, though they refrain from storing resources, earning cash incomes, and eschew agricultural production and animal husbandry. Sharing, exchange, gift and counter-gift engagements are obligatory or compulsory, free and voluntary, ensuring their reciprocity with neighbouring populations – which has been regulated by seasonality, foraging and population density around the vicinities of their camps. Qualitative research was employed, with informal interviews, observations, personal accounts, audio and video recording, as well as field diaries.

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References

Bahuchet, S 1990. Food sharing among the Pygmies of Central Africa. African Study Monographs 11(1):27–53. Google Scholar

Bahuchet, S & Guillaume, H 1982. Aka-farmer relations in the northwest Congo Basin. In Leacock, E & Lee, R (eds) Politics and history in band societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:189–211. Google Scholar

Bandhu, CM 1987. Rāute haruko sanskritik adhyayan: samkshyipta pratibedan [Rāutes cultural study: a brief report]. Kathmandu: Nepal Rājakiya Pragayā Pratisthān. Google Scholar

Bird-David, N 1990. The giving environment: another perspective on the economic system of gatherer-hunters. Current Anthropology 31(2):189–196. Google Scholar

Bird-David, N 2005. The property of sharing: Western analytical notions, Nayaka contexts. In Widlok T & Tadesse, WG (eds) Property and equality: ritualisation, sharing, egalitarianism. New York: Berghahn Books:201–216. Google Scholar

Bista, DB 1976. Encounter with the Rāute: the last hunting nomads of Nepal. Kailāsh 4(4):317–327. Google Scholar

Blurton-Jones, NG 1984. A selfish origin for human food sharing: tolerated theft. Ethnology and Sociobiology 5:1–3. Google Scholar

Blurton-Jones, NG 1987. Tolerated theft: suggestions about the ecology and evolution of sharing, hoarding, and scrounging. Social Science Information 26:31–54. Google Scholar

Boehm, C 1993. Egalitarian behavior and reverse dominance hierarchy. Current Anthropology 34(3):227–254. Google Scholar

Carrier, JG 1995. Gifts and commodities exchange and western capitalism since 1700. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) 2011. National population and housing census. Kathmandu: CBS. Google Scholar

Crittenden, AN 2016. To share or not to share? Social processes of learning to share food among Hadza hunter-gatherer children. In Terashima, H & Hewlett, BS (eds) Social learning and innovation in contemporary hunter-gatherers. Tokyo: Springer Japan:61–70. Google Scholar

Dahal, DR 1981. The concept of economy in a peasant society: a case study of the Athpahariyā Rāi in the east Nepal. Contributions to Nepalese Studies 8(2):55–71. Google Scholar

Dalton, G 1961. Economic theory and primitive society. American Anthropologist 63:1–25. Google Scholar

Douglas, M 1966. Purity and danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. New York and Washington: Praeger. Google Scholar

Durkheim, E 1995[1912]. The elementary forms of religious life. Fields, K (trans). New York: Free Press. Google Scholar

Fehr, E & Fischbacher, U 2005. The economics of strong reciprocity. In Gintis, H, Bowles, S, Boyd, R & Fehr, E (eds) Moral sentiments and material interests the foundations of cooperation in economic life. MIT Press. 6:151–192. Google Scholar

Forline, LC 2016. Caught in the web, but still in the past: foraging, farming and socioeconomic relations between the Awá-Guajá and their neighbors. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:227–253. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2000. Monkey’s thigh is the shaman’s meat: ideologies of sharing among the Rāute of western Nepal. Senri Ethnological Series 53:113–147. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2001. Sharing, hoarding, and theft: exchange and resistance in forager farmer relations. Ethnology 40(3):193–211. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2002. The arts of deception: verbal performances by the Rāute of Nepal. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8(2):133–257. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2003. Reflections of Rāute identity. Studies in Nepalese History and Society 8(2):317–348. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2009. Kings of the forest: the cultural resilience of Himalayan hunter-gatherers. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Google Scholar

Godelier, M 1999. The enigma of the gift. Scoot, N (trans). Cambridge: Polity Press. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K, O’Connell, JF & Blurton-Jones, NG 2001. Hadza meat sharing. Evolution and Human Behavior 22(2):113–142. Google Scholar

Headland, TN & Reid, LA 1989. Hunter-gatherers and their neighbors from prehistory to the present. Current Anthropology 30(1):43–66. Google Scholar

Herskovits, MJ 1974[1940]. Economic anthropology the economic life of primitive peoples. New Delhi: Eurasia Publishing House. Google Scholar

Ikeya K & Hitchcock, KR 2016. Introduction. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:1–15. Google Scholar

Inamura, T, Khanal, KC & Kawamoto, Y 2016. Rāute Nepalese monkey hunters and their changing relations with the outside world. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:109–122. Google Scholar

Kelly, RL 1983. Hunter-gatherer mobility strategies. Journal of Anthropological Research 39(3):277–306. Google Scholar

Köhler, A & Lewis, J 2002. Putting hunter-gatherer and farmer relations in perspective: a commentary from central Africa. In Kent, S (ed) Ethnicity, hunter-gatherers, and the ‘other’: association or assimilation in Southern Africa? Washington: Smithsonian Institute: 276–305. Google Scholar

Kolm, SC 1992. Reciprocity: The Newsletter of PEGS (2)2:1, 5–6. Google Scholar

Laidlaw, J 2000. A free gift makes no friends. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6(4):617–634. Google Scholar

Lee, RB 1968. What hunters do for a living, or, how to make out on scarce resources. In Lee, R & DeVore, I (eds) Man the hunter. New York: Aldine De Gruyter:30–48. Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, C 1969. The elementary structures of kinship. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, C 1987[1950]. Introduction to the work of Marcel Mauss. Baker, F (trans). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Google Scholar

Luintel, YR 1998. Bharmansil Rāute: ek samājsāstriya adhyan [Nomadic Rāute: a sociological study]. Kathmandu: Nepal Rājakiya Pragayā Pratisthān. Google Scholar

Malinowski, B 1922. Argonauts of the western pacific: an account of native enterprise and adventure in the archipelagos of Melanesian. New Guinea: Routledge. Google Scholar

Malinowski, B 1926. Crime and custom in savage society. London: Kegan Paul. Google Scholar

Marshall, L 1998. Sharing, talking, and giving: relief of social tensions among the !Kung. In Gowdy, JM (ed) Limited wants, unlimited means: a reader on hunter-gatherer economics and the environment. Washington, DC: Island Press:65–66. Google Scholar

Mauss, M 1924. Essai sur la don. Forme et raison de l’echange dans les sociétés archaïques. Année Sociologique ns 1:30, 36. Google Scholar

Mauss, M 2012[1950]. The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Messerschmidt, DA 1982. Miteri in Nepal: Fictive kin ties that bind. Kailāsh: A Journal of Himalayan Studies IX(1):5–43. Google Scholar

Middleton, T 2015. The demands of recognition: state anthropology and ethnopolitics in Darjeeling. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar

Milton, K 1985. Ecological foundations for subsistence strategies among the Mbuti pygmies. Human Ecology 13(1): 71–78. Google Scholar

Minnegal, M 1997. Consumption and production sharing and the social construction of use-value. Current Anthropology 38(1):25–48. Google Scholar

Minter, T 2010. The Agta of the northern Sierra Madre: livelihood strategies and resilience among Philippine hunter-gatherers. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Leiden: Leiden University. Google Scholar

Molm, LD, Schaefer, DR & Collett, JL 2007. The value of reciprocity. Social Psychology Quarterly 70(2):199–217. Google Scholar

Myers, RF 1988. Critical trends in the study of hunter-gathers. Annual Review of Anthropology 17(1):261–282. Google Scholar

Narotzky, S 1997. New directions in economic anthropology. London: Pluto Press. Google Scholar

Nepāl, PP ‘Yātri’ 1997[1983]. Rāute lokjiban [Rāute Folkways]. Kathmandu: Shree Pānchako Sarkār, Suchanā Mantrālaya. Google Scholar

Nettle, D & Dunbar, IMR 1997. Social markers and the evolution of reciprocal exchange. Current Anthropology 38:93–98. Google Scholar

Okada, FE 1957. Ritual brotherhood: a cohesive factor in Nepalese society. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 13(3):212–222. Google Scholar

Parry, J 1986. The gift, the Indian gift, and the ‘Indian gift’. Man 21:453–473. Google Scholar

Peterson, JT 1978. Hunter-gatherer/farmer exchange. American Anthropologist 80(2):335–351. Google Scholar

Polayni, K 2001[1944]. The great transformation the political and economic origins of our time. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Reinhard, J 1974. The Rāute: notes on nomadic hunting and gathering tribe of Nepal. Kailāsh 2(4):233–271. Google Scholar

Sahlins, M 1972. Stone age economics. Chicago: Adine. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2011. Field notes. Interview with Dhaul Singh Raute. 11 October. Jogbuda, Dadeldhura district. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2011. Bhramansil Rāute ko jātiya pahichan ra jātiya paribartan [Ethnic identity of nomadic Rāute and ethnicity change]. Pragayā 105(1):106–114. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2013. Cultural dynamics of nomadic hunter-gatherer of Himalaya: a mini research project report. Bhaktapur: University Grants Commission Nepal. Google Scholar

Sherry, JF 1983. Gift giving in anthropological perspective. The Journal of Consumer Research 10(2):157–168. Google Scholar

Singh, NB 1997. The endangered Rāute tribe: ethno-biology and biodiversity. Kathmandu: Global Research Carrel for Ethno-Biology. Google Scholar

Spielmann, KA & Eder, JF 1994. Hunters and farmers: then and now. Annual Review of Anthropology 23(1): 303–323. Google Scholar

Venkatesan, S 2011. The social life of a ‘free’ gift. American Ethnologist 38(1):47–57. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 2013. Sharing: allowing others to take what is valued. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(2):11–31. Google Scholar

Wiessner, P 2002. Hunting, healing, and hxaro exchange: a long-term perspective on! Kung (Ju/’hoansi) large-game hunting. Evolution and Human Behavior 23(6):407–436 Google Scholar

Woodburn, J 1982. Egalitarian societies. Man 17(3):431–451. Google Scholar

Woodburn, J 1998. Sharing is not a form of exchange: an analysis of property-sharing in immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies. In Hann, CM (ed) Property relations: renewing the anthropological tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:48–63. Google Scholar

Woodburn J 2016. Silent trade with outsiders: hunter-gatherers’ perspectives. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(2):473–496. Google Scholar

Yan, Y 2005. The gift and gift economy. In Carrier, JG (ed) A handbook of economic anthropology. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar:246–261. Google Scholar

Yatsuka, H 2016. Historical interaction with neighbors from the view of livelihood change: a study of the Sandawe of Tanzania. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:81–105. Google Scholar

Bahuchet, S 1990. Food sharing among the Pygmies of Central Africa. African Study Monographs 11(1):27–53. Google Scholar

Bahuchet, S & Guillaume, H 1982. Aka-farmer relations in the northwest Congo Basin. In Leacock, E & Lee, R (eds) Politics and history in band societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:189–211. Google Scholar

Bandhu, CM 1987. Rāute haruko sanskritik adhyayan: samkshyipta pratibedan [Rāutes cultural study: a brief report]. Kathmandu: Nepal Rājakiya Pragayā Pratisthān. Google Scholar

Bird-David, N 1990. The giving environment: another perspective on the economic system of gatherer-hunters. Current Anthropology 31(2):189–196. Google Scholar

Bird-David, N 2005. The property of sharing: Western analytical notions, Nayaka contexts. In Widlok T & Tadesse, WG (eds) Property and equality: ritualisation, sharing, egalitarianism. New York: Berghahn Books:201–216. Google Scholar

Bista, DB 1976. Encounter with the Rāute: the last hunting nomads of Nepal. Kailāsh 4(4):317–327. Google Scholar

Blurton-Jones, NG 1984. A selfish origin for human food sharing: tolerated theft. Ethnology and Sociobiology 5:1–3. Google Scholar

Blurton-Jones, NG 1987. Tolerated theft: suggestions about the ecology and evolution of sharing, hoarding, and scrounging. Social Science Information 26:31–54. Google Scholar

Boehm, C 1993. Egalitarian behavior and reverse dominance hierarchy. Current Anthropology 34(3):227–254. Google Scholar

Carrier, JG 1995. Gifts and commodities exchange and western capitalism since 1700. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) 2011. National population and housing census. Kathmandu: CBS. Google Scholar

Crittenden, AN 2016. To share or not to share? Social processes of learning to share food among Hadza hunter-gatherer children. In Terashima, H & Hewlett, BS (eds) Social learning and innovation in contemporary hunter-gatherers. Tokyo: Springer Japan:61–70. Google Scholar

Dahal, DR 1981. The concept of economy in a peasant society: a case study of the Athpahariyā Rāi in the east Nepal. Contributions to Nepalese Studies 8(2):55–71. Google Scholar

Dalton, G 1961. Economic theory and primitive society. American Anthropologist 63:1–25. Google Scholar

Douglas, M 1966. Purity and danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. New York and Washington: Praeger. Google Scholar

Durkheim, E 1995[1912]. The elementary forms of religious life. Fields, K (trans). New York: Free Press. Google Scholar

Fehr, E & Fischbacher, U 2005. The economics of strong reciprocity. In Gintis, H, Bowles, S, Boyd, R & Fehr, E (eds) Moral sentiments and material interests the foundations of cooperation in economic life. MIT Press. 6:151–192. Google Scholar

Forline, LC 2016. Caught in the web, but still in the past: foraging, farming and socioeconomic relations between the Awá-Guajá and their neighbors. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:227–253. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2000. Monkey’s thigh is the shaman’s meat: ideologies of sharing among the Rāute of western Nepal. Senri Ethnological Series 53:113–147. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2001. Sharing, hoarding, and theft: exchange and resistance in forager farmer relations. Ethnology 40(3):193–211. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2002. The arts of deception: verbal performances by the Rāute of Nepal. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8(2):133–257. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2003. Reflections of Rāute identity. Studies in Nepalese History and Society 8(2):317–348. Google Scholar

Fortier, J 2009. Kings of the forest: the cultural resilience of Himalayan hunter-gatherers. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Google Scholar

Godelier, M 1999. The enigma of the gift. Scoot, N (trans). Cambridge: Polity Press. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K, O’Connell, JF & Blurton-Jones, NG 2001. Hadza meat sharing. Evolution and Human Behavior 22(2):113–142. Google Scholar

Headland, TN & Reid, LA 1989. Hunter-gatherers and their neighbors from prehistory to the present. Current Anthropology 30(1):43–66. Google Scholar

Herskovits, MJ 1974[1940]. Economic anthropology the economic life of primitive peoples. New Delhi: Eurasia Publishing House. Google Scholar

Ikeya K & Hitchcock, KR 2016. Introduction. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:1–15. Google Scholar

Inamura, T, Khanal, KC & Kawamoto, Y 2016. Rāute Nepalese monkey hunters and their changing relations with the outside world. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:109–122. Google Scholar

Kelly, RL 1983. Hunter-gatherer mobility strategies. Journal of Anthropological Research 39(3):277–306. Google Scholar

Köhler, A & Lewis, J 2002. Putting hunter-gatherer and farmer relations in perspective: a commentary from central Africa. In Kent, S (ed) Ethnicity, hunter-gatherers, and the ‘other’: association or assimilation in Southern Africa? Washington: Smithsonian Institute: 276–305. Google Scholar

Kolm, SC 1992. Reciprocity: The Newsletter of PEGS (2)2:1, 5–6. Google Scholar

Laidlaw, J 2000. A free gift makes no friends. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6(4):617–634. Google Scholar

Lee, RB 1968. What hunters do for a living, or, how to make out on scarce resources. In Lee, R & DeVore, I (eds) Man the hunter. New York: Aldine De Gruyter:30–48. Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, C 1969. The elementary structures of kinship. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, C 1987[1950]. Introduction to the work of Marcel Mauss. Baker, F (trans). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Google Scholar

Luintel, YR 1998. Bharmansil Rāute: ek samājsāstriya adhyan [Nomadic Rāute: a sociological study]. Kathmandu: Nepal Rājakiya Pragayā Pratisthān. Google Scholar

Malinowski, B 1922. Argonauts of the western pacific: an account of native enterprise and adventure in the archipelagos of Melanesian. New Guinea: Routledge. Google Scholar

Malinowski, B 1926. Crime and custom in savage society. London: Kegan Paul. Google Scholar

Marshall, L 1998. Sharing, talking, and giving: relief of social tensions among the !Kung. In Gowdy, JM (ed) Limited wants, unlimited means: a reader on hunter-gatherer economics and the environment. Washington, DC: Island Press:65–66. Google Scholar

Mauss, M 1924. Essai sur la don. Forme et raison de l’echange dans les sociétés archaïques. Année Sociologique ns 1:30, 36. Google Scholar

Mauss, M 2012[1950]. The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Messerschmidt, DA 1982. Miteri in Nepal: Fictive kin ties that bind. Kailāsh: A Journal of Himalayan Studies IX(1):5–43. Google Scholar

Middleton, T 2015. The demands of recognition: state anthropology and ethnopolitics in Darjeeling. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar

Milton, K 1985. Ecological foundations for subsistence strategies among the Mbuti pygmies. Human Ecology 13(1): 71–78. Google Scholar

Minnegal, M 1997. Consumption and production sharing and the social construction of use-value. Current Anthropology 38(1):25–48. Google Scholar

Minter, T 2010. The Agta of the northern Sierra Madre: livelihood strategies and resilience among Philippine hunter-gatherers. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Leiden: Leiden University. Google Scholar

Molm, LD, Schaefer, DR & Collett, JL 2007. The value of reciprocity. Social Psychology Quarterly 70(2):199–217. Google Scholar

Myers, RF 1988. Critical trends in the study of hunter-gathers. Annual Review of Anthropology 17(1):261–282. Google Scholar

Narotzky, S 1997. New directions in economic anthropology. London: Pluto Press. Google Scholar

Nepāl, PP ‘Yātri’ 1997[1983]. Rāute lokjiban [Rāute Folkways]. Kathmandu: Shree Pānchako Sarkār, Suchanā Mantrālaya. Google Scholar

Nettle, D & Dunbar, IMR 1997. Social markers and the evolution of reciprocal exchange. Current Anthropology 38:93–98. Google Scholar

Okada, FE 1957. Ritual brotherhood: a cohesive factor in Nepalese society. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 13(3):212–222. Google Scholar

Parry, J 1986. The gift, the Indian gift, and the ‘Indian gift’. Man 21:453–473. Google Scholar

Peterson, JT 1978. Hunter-gatherer/farmer exchange. American Anthropologist 80(2):335–351. Google Scholar

Polayni, K 2001[1944]. The great transformation the political and economic origins of our time. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Reinhard, J 1974. The Rāute: notes on nomadic hunting and gathering tribe of Nepal. Kailāsh 2(4):233–271. Google Scholar

Sahlins, M 1972. Stone age economics. Chicago: Adine. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2011. Field notes. Interview with Dhaul Singh Raute. 11 October. Jogbuda, Dadeldhura district. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2011. Bhramansil Rāute ko jātiya pahichan ra jātiya paribartan [Ethnic identity of nomadic Rāute and ethnicity change]. Pragayā 105(1):106–114. Google Scholar

Shāhu, MB 2013. Cultural dynamics of nomadic hunter-gatherer of Himalaya: a mini research project report. Bhaktapur: University Grants Commission Nepal. Google Scholar

Sherry, JF 1983. Gift giving in anthropological perspective. The Journal of Consumer Research 10(2):157–168. Google Scholar

Singh, NB 1997. The endangered Rāute tribe: ethno-biology and biodiversity. Kathmandu: Global Research Carrel for Ethno-Biology. Google Scholar

Spielmann, KA & Eder, JF 1994. Hunters and farmers: then and now. Annual Review of Anthropology 23(1): 303–323. Google Scholar

Venkatesan, S 2011. The social life of a ‘free’ gift. American Ethnologist 38(1):47–57. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 2013. Sharing: allowing others to take what is valued. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(2):11–31. Google Scholar

Wiessner, P 2002. Hunting, healing, and hxaro exchange: a long-term perspective on! Kung (Ju/’hoansi) large-game hunting. Evolution and Human Behavior 23(6):407–436 Google Scholar

Woodburn, J 1982. Egalitarian societies. Man 17(3):431–451. Google Scholar

Woodburn, J 1998. Sharing is not a form of exchange: an analysis of property-sharing in immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies. In Hann, CM (ed) Property relations: renewing the anthropological tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:48–63. Google Scholar

Woodburn J 2016. Silent trade with outsiders: hunter-gatherers’ perspectives. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(2):473–496. Google Scholar

Yan, Y 2005. The gift and gift economy. In Carrier, JG (ed) A handbook of economic anthropology. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar:246–261. Google Scholar

Yatsuka, H 2016. Historical interaction with neighbors from the view of livelihood change: a study of the Sandawe of Tanzania. Senri Ethnological Studies 94:81–105. Google Scholar

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Shahu, Man Bahadur

Shahu, Man Bahadur