The researchers are working to safeguard the Agta and their culture. AgtaAid has already created books in the Agta language, so that children can read the stories.
“A really emotional time for us was when AgtaAid went back (to the Philippines) with the first books and the stories reproduced in Agta,” Migliano said. “The elders could not read, but the young children read the stories back to the elders, who were really moved and happy to hear the stories they had learned as children now being told by their grandchildren."
With funding from the Leverhulme Trust, the researchers are also assisting the Agta to have the hunter-gatherers' land rights officially recognized by the Philippine government.
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Through further research, the authors hope to learn how individuals become skilled storytellers, how social contexts like warfare may change tales, and if there are any noteworthy sex and age differences between storytellers. So far, it appears that both men and women among the Agta have equal levels of storytelling skills, perhaps reflecting their more egalitarian society.
Although storytelling has clearly benefited and helped to shape human groups, there can be a dark side to this practice.
As Smith pointed out, "There is the danger that narratives can also be used for more sinister and manipulative purposes, especially if the storyteller is given free rein on the type of stories they tell."
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