Hunter Gatherer Research

The experience of ‘being a hunter’

Towards a phenomenological anthropology of hunting practices

Hunter Gatherer Research (2018), 3, (2), 227–251.

Abstract

Hunting today is increasingly complex and heterogeneous. Processes of globalisation (economy, technology, law, tourism) transform local hunting practices as Western ways of hunting encounter non-Western, local ways of hunting. The question arises in how far a globalised (universal?) practice of hunting has developed in the wake of these transformations. Do hunters worldwide share a common understanding due to their being a hunter and being involved in the activities of ‘hunting’? Or are we still dealing with very distinct sociocultural practices of hunting? (Widlok 2016a and b) To answer these questions, we need to look more closely at the performance of hunting practices and the experiences of hunting. I argue that a framework for such research can be provided by a practice-oriented phenomenological anthropology. Drawing on Ingold (2000, 2011), I will first outline a phenomenological anthropology of hunting that combines issues of hunting experiences with an analysis of hunting practices as the conditions for shaping those experiences. In the main part of the article I elaborate on how to go about such an approach in terms of fieldwork methods, descriptions of hunting practices, phenomenological theoretical background and ethnographic representation. Thus equipped, in the conclusion, I will return to the question of the possibility of transcultural understanding surrounding the claim of ‘being a hunter’.

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Gieser, Thorsten