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Completed research project

Title / Titel Chase and Game – Hunting and Gathering in Transition.
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung In September 2014, the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich held a small workshop on hunters and gatherers. It was our intention to explore the state of the art as well as current issues in the fields of learning, practicing and representing religious beliefs and practical skills of hunting and material culture related to hunters and gatherers. The workshop took place in the Ballenberg Course Center in central Switzerland. It has been the objective to present ongoing research as well as to exchange ideas and thoughts about the impact which a focus on oral traditions, skills and material culture had, has and should have in current anthropological debates, research, university curricula, and museum exhibitions. Presentations concerned the following broader issues:

• Hunting and economy:
o Economic strategies in “hunting societies”
o The economic relevance of hunting in pastoral and agricultural societies
o Economic problems and problem solution in todays’ hunter gatherer societies

• Hunting and spiritual life:
o Hunting magic, hunting taboos, hunting language
o Sacrificial rites, divination, hunters’ cosmologies
o Oral traditions about hunting

• Hunting and skilled practice:
o Hunting and food
o Technologies of hunting
o Transmission of hunting knowledge

One of the outcomes of the workshop has been the initiation of a long term research project of hunter gatherer skills.

The Program of the workshop, which was held from September 18th – 21st 2014, was:

Chase and Game – Hunting and Gathering in Transition
September 18th – 21st 2014, Ballenberg (CH)

Thursday, 18th September 2014
12:00 Welcome at Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich

Friday, 19th September 2014
09:15 – 09:30 Welcome and Introduction (Mareile Flitsch, Rebekka Sutter, Ingo Nentwig)
09:30 – 10:30 Initial lecture: Mitsuo Ichikawa: Hunting and bushmeat consumption by the Central African forest peoples.

Topic: The current political and economic situation of hunter-gatherer communities
10:45 – 11:30 Ingo Nentwig: Some observations on the cultural economy of hunting in the Greater Hinggan Mountains of Northeast China.
11:30 – 12:15 Junko Maruyama: The contemporary dynamics of hunting and gathering activities among the resettled San.

Topic: Hunting and Spiritual Life
14:15 – 15:00 Nurit Bird-David: Death, humans and animals: Cosmological perspectives from a South Asian foragers’ viewpoint.
15:00 – 15:45 Signe Howell: Seeing and knowing: Metamorphosis and fragility of species in Chewong animistic ontology.

16:15 – 17:00 Jin Wei: 书面文献和口头传承中的傈僳族传统狩猎文化 (Written and oral sources on traditional hunting culture of Lisu nationality in Yunnan Province of China)

Saturday, 20th September 2014

Topic: Hunting between economic system, economic production strategy and risk
09:15 – 10:45 Bram Tucker: Coming back empty-handed: Folk models of natural and supernatural causality.
10:00 – 10:45 Rane Willerslev: Sharing among the Ik: Radically egalitarian or a hobbesian nightmare?

Topic: Skills / Technology of hunter-gatherer societies
11:15 – 12:00 Thomas Widlok: Cracking nuts, making arrows and the implications of human excentric positionality.
12:00 – 12:45 Rebekka Sutter: Traps as skilled practice
16:00 – 16:45 Mareile Flitsch: The water puzzle. About hunter-gatherers’ drinking skills.
16:00 – 18:00 Final discussion: Perspectives in hunter-gatherer anthropology
Keywords / Suchbegriffe Hunter gatherers, anthropology of technology, skilled practice
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch (Project Leader)
lic.phil Rebekka Sutter
Dr. Ingo Nentwig Ingo Nentwig/at/UZH
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Prof. Dr. Nurit Bird-David, University Haifa Israel
Prof. Dr. Signe Howell, University of Oslo Norway
Prof. em. Ichikawa Mitsuo 市川光雄, University of Kyoto Japan
Prof. Dr. JIN Wei 金伟, Chengdu University China
Prof. Dr. Maruyama, Junko 丸山淳子, Tsuda College, Tokyo Japan
Prof. Dr. Bram Tucker, University of Georgia United States
Prof. Dr. Thomas Widlok, Universität Köln Germany
Prof. Dr. Rane Willerslev, University of Aarhus Denmark
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jun 2014 to May 2017