HRAF News Vol. 2022-6
Conferences, Workshops, and New Publications from HRAF
HRAF is excited to return to the International Conference on Hunting & Gathering Societies (CHAGS) at the end of June. We will host a virtual workshop showcasing the eHRAF databases and other resources for hunter-gatherer research. Earlier this month, HRAF researchers attended the Royal Anthropological Institute 2022 conference where they made a presentation about data services planned for eHRAF World Cultures that seek to leverage natural language processing and machine learning to produce innovative tools for cross-cultural research. A new topical summary on Residence and Kinship has been published in Explaining Human Culture, along with a related teaching activity. HRAF researchers on another NSF-supported project have published a new article containing a worldwide comparison of local responses to natural hazards. Finally, submissions are now open for the 2022 Society for Anthropological Sciences Carol R. Ember Book Prize.
For over fifty years, CHAGS conferences have provided a space for researchers interested in hunter-gatherers, including anthropologists and archaeologists. HRAF has participated in past conferences including Vienna (2015) and Penang (2018).

This year, we are pleased to host a workshop at the CHAGS XIII Conference in Dublin, Ireland taking place from June 27 to July 1. The theme of this year’s conference is "Living Well Together", which emphasizes how hunter-gatherers seek to live well with all of the other forms of being with which they share and shape their worlds. In this workshop, we will cover:

• A brief introduction to HRAF
• eHRAF databases overview: browsing, searching & indexing 
• eHRAF for hunter-gatherer anthropology and archaeology: cross-cultural research on hunter-gatherers
• Additional hunter-gatherer resources from HRAF
• Teaching with eHRAF
• Open Q&A and database search tutorials with input from attendees

A new topical summary on Residence and Kinship is now available in Explaining Human Culture, our open access database that summarizes the results of over 1,100 cross-cultural studies. This EHC summary is co-authored by HRAF President Carol R. Ember and interns Anj Droe and Danielle Russell.

Throughout the anthropological record, kinship principles have formed the basis of how human societies were organized. Families containing at least one parent and one child are customary in all societies and are commonly the building blocks of larger families and kin groups. However, there is considerable cross-cultural variation in the size and composition of these larger kin groups.

In this topical summary, we consider explanations and predictors of variation in marital residence patterns, the form and composition of larger kin groups, and the terms used for kin. We also discuss consequences of variation in kinship patterns and conclude with questions for further research.

The Royal Anthropological Institute 2022 Conference took place virtually from June 6-11. The theme of this year's conference was "Anthropology, AI and the Future of Human Society."

As producers of the world's largest anthropological databank, HRAF was pleased to attend this virtual conference alongside like-minded enthusiasts of anthropology, computing, and technological futures.

Matthew Longcore represented HRAF in the virtual exhibitor's hall. Our booth enabled attendees to learn more about the eHRAF databases and the varied uses of our cross-cultural collections for both ethnographic and data science purposes. They were also able to preview our new database design.

Dr. Francine Barone, Prof. Michael Fischer, and Dr. Sridhar Ravula presented Ethnographic Data Science: New Approaches to Comparative Research in the panel "Programming anthropology: coding and culture in the age of AI". The paper explored how machine learning and natural language processing are being used to enhance eHRAF World Cultures as part of HRAF's NSF-funded iKLEWS project.

The HRAF research team announces a new publication based on data from their NSF-supported project investigating how natural hazards may have transformed culture. Local Knowledge and Practice in Disaster Relief: A Worldwide Cross-Cultural Comparison of Coping Mechanisms reviews and documents the rich diversity of plans and strategies that local people have used to cope with hazards, particularly droughts and floods.

As the authors, Rachele Pierro, Carol Ember, Emily Pitek, and Ian Skoggard point out, local, indigenous, or traditional knowledge is often undervalued, but people living in difficult environments have had centuries or sometimes millennia to figure out how to minimize their risks. After all, many societies in the anthropological record have survived multiple natural hazards in the past. Using data from 90 societies, the researchers found that most coping mechanisms could be classified into four major categories– technological, religious, subsistence and economic.

To read more about the project and other related publications, click here.

HRAF at Yale University|