Hunter Gatherer Research


Hunter Gatherer Research (2019), 4, (2), 247–249.


Response Ivana Živaljević Response BioSense Institute, University of Novi Sad, Dr Zorana Đinđića 1, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia The paper ‘Can hunter-gatherers ever “get to know” their prey? The role of environmental experiences and daily interactions in the formation of humannonhuman relationships in the British Mesolithic and beyond’ by Nick J Overton aims to challenge the notion that meaningful interpersonal relations between humans and non-humans (that is, the understanding of all parties in these relations as subjects or persons) are possible exclusively in pastoralist societies (where intimate knowledge stems from close proximity and daily interactions), whereas in hunter-gatherer societies interspecies interactions are limited to episodic hunting events. Consequently, it aims to inquire into prevalent notions that pastoralists get to know animals as individuals, and hunter-gatherers solely as generic categories of species. Here, it should be emphasised that the emergence of relational approaches to human–nonhuman relationships in archaeology drew heavily on anthropological accounts of animist ontologies precisely among hunter-gatherer societies (eg Viveiros de Castro 1998; Willerslev 2004). Moreover, in his seminal work ‘From trust to domination’, Ingold (1994) argues that it is huntergatherers, rather than pastoralists, who relate to animals as beings which are not under their control and consequently as intentional subjects. And, it was precisely this perception of domestic animals as objects and property that was subjected to criticism by authors such as Armstrong Oma (2010), who focused instead on intimacy, mutual trust and partnership in these multispecies communities. Consequently, it might be argued that authors concerned with human–nonhuman relations in post-domestication contexts were also reacting against the overemphasis on hunter-gatherer relations with animals in anthropological and archaeological literature. However, the important question raised by Overton is not solely whether hunter-gatherers perceive non-human animals as persons or subjects (and there is a number of anthropological and archaeological works on the subject), but Hunter Gatherer Research 4.2 (2019 [for 2018]) ISSN 1476-4261 © Liverpool University Press

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Author details

Živaljević, Ivana