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Keywords:

  • contemporary hunter-gatherers;
  • social change;
  • indigenous rights;
  • egalitarianism;
  • sharing

This chapter presents an overview of 40 years of research on hunter-gatherers and attempts to situate Susan Kent's oeuvre within this larger body of work. Some of the main contours of the economic, social, and political life and core ideologies of foraging peoples are outlined. Then the key debates around questions of the historical autonomy of hunter-gatherers are explored along with Kent's position on these issues. All hunter-gatherer groups have undergone a series of changes under the impact of states and markets and the processes of incorporation into the global system. While none have escaped the devastating effects of these impacts, strong evidence exists for the persistence of core values and institutions. Susan Kent's research, with her unique positioning in archaeology and development studies, influenced these debates in important ways.