Fur, Feathers, and Antennae

Janelle Baker
Email address: 
Session Date and Time: 
Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 09:00 to 10:15
Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
, Jaime - Washington State University

For thousands of years, humans have sustained complex, globally widespread relationships with dogs -- made possible through mutual capacity to form close, cooperative bonds. However, cross-cultural variation in human-dog interactions remains poorly understood. Prior ethnographic work highlights human ambivalence toward dogs, reflective of dogs’ liminal status between culture and nature (Levi-Strauss 1966; Gottlieb 1986; de Vidas 2002). To investigate cross-cultural variation in ontological perspectives surrounding dogs, this study employs the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS). Through exploratory principal component analysis (PCA), variables associated with dogs as “persons” emerged in the first component. In qualitative analysis of texts associated with these variables, three primary themes emerged cross-culturally: 1) explicit designation of dogs as persons; 2) ambivalent or inconsistent personhood; and 3) lack of personhood, with connotations of sub-human status. Cross-cultural variation in ontological perspectives may reflect dogs’ diverse functions across socio-ecological contexts.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Afure - University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
, Grace - University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
, Osariyekemwen - University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

The way human cultures perceive, classify and use insects is central to our understanding of the role of insects as food, and in pharmacology, religion, spirituality and cultural evolution in human societies. Using semi-structured questionnaires to elicit information, this study examined the ethnoentomlogical practices of the Bini people in southern Nigeria. Of the 150 respondents interviewed,  98.67% reported the use of insects as food, 25.33% reported the therapeutic use of insects and 77.33% reported the cultural and religious significance of insects and 19.33% reported insect use as either bait, feed for poultry and animals and as contraceptives. Four different insect species were found to be consumed, while eleven species were reported to be of therapeutic relevance. The study showed that insects have roles in myth and taboo, dreams, idioms, poems and incantations. In sum, our study document the ethnoentomological knowledge of the Bini people for the first time.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Janelle - Athabasca University
, Helen - Bigstone Cree Nation Elder

This paper and short ethnographic film demonstrate the sakawiyiniwak (Northern Bush Cree) ethnobiological knowledge of naming and butchering the cultural keystone species mooswah, or moose (Alces alces). Bigstone Cree Nation Elders promote the linguistic continuation of sakaw nehiyawewin (northern Bush Cree language) naming of moose anatomy and the association of this knowledge with good and respectful moose butchering protocols and behaviour. We explain the significance of traditional butchering practices and demonstrate them in a short film of Helen Noskiye and her brothers butchering a moose in 2016. We have partnered with a team of scientists and Bigstone Cree Nation environmental monitors for research in which we use moose sampling kits to test them for indicators of health and contaminants, along with water sampling for microbiological analysis and toxicology related to moose and human health. We describe the community observations in changes in moose health and movements that informs this monitoring.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Michelle - California State University Sacramento and University of Nevada Reno

This talk discusses traditional sustainable practices in Northern Lao PDR vis-à-vis edible insects, arguing that sustainable and traditional practices can go hand in hand. Political ecology, traditional ecological knowledge, and biological aspects of the agroecosystem are briefly discussed to exemplify the complexity of the system. Data on insect availability and selling prices in five markets across the region in December 2016, reveal Lao PDR’s economic potential and its unique position to take advantage of insect-eating traditions. International research about the low environmental costs of raising or collecting edible insects, their rich nutritional content, and other benefits and issues of insects as food sources is discussed. Traditional insect knowledge and collection has the potential to be an economic boon, benefiting farming households in the uplands by maintaining traditional agroecosystems while at the same time preserving traditional lifestyles with dignity.