Donnerstag, 23. Oktober 2014, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Departmental Seminar - Jerome Lewis

Where Goods are Free but Knowledge Costs: BaYaka Hunter-Gatherer Ritual Economics in Western Central Africa

Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie
Universitätsstraße 7, NIG 4. Stock, 1010 Wien

Antrittsvorlesung, Public Lecture

Forest hunter-gatherers in Western Central Africa participate in an unusual economic system that transacts material goods in a very different way to intellectual goods. While material goods, such as food, tools or clothing, are generally freely given when demanded, intellectual goods, such as the right to perform specific rituals or to receive certain remedies, are exchanged for goods and money. These hunter-gatherer groups trade certain types of knowledge for material goods with each other, but never trade material goods for other material goods with each other, despite doing so with neighbouring farmers. They simply demand them from one another. The distribution of key aspects of this economic system across linguistic and international frontiers suggests that it is likely to have been well established before colonial times. The hunter-gatherer ritual system is valued for immediately producing goods, and contrasts in interesting ways with another regional system common among chiefly societies in Central and West Africa that focuses on ensuring that goods will come in the future.


Jerome Lewis lectures in Social Anthropology at University College London. He began working with Pygmy hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers in Rwanda in 1993 examining discrimination and its role in victimising Twa during the Rwandan genocide. Since 1994 he has worked with Mbendjele Pygmies in Congo-Brazzaville researching child socialisation, play and religion; egalitarian politics and gender relations; and language and communication. This work has led to a recent edited volume on the Social Origins of Language (OUP 2014).

He currently co-directs the Resilience Project examining the cultural, social and biological factors that account for the resilience of some contemporary hunter-gatherer groups in South East Asia and Africa. He also co-directs the Extreme Citizen Science Group supporting marginalised and often non-literate communities to document their cultural and environmental knowledge in Central Africa, Brazil and the Arctic.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


Institut ür Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Mag. Marie-Therese Hartwig
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie