SENKU seminar with Dr Robert Wishart

What is the real trap: domination and mutualism in Gwich’in sensibilities about trapping and industrial development alternatives

***Please note: the seminar will take place on a Friday***


Abstract: The Gwich’in of the Mackenzie Valley have consistently positioned trapping as a valuable exercise despite theories and anti-fur activists linking trapping to individualism, alienation and disenchantment. Corporate and national interests then focused on industrial development as a cure for the collapse in the land based mixed economy. In contrast I argue that trapping is far from being an alienating practice. Indigenous trappers build their traps and trap-lines in ways that suit their pre-existing practices of movement on the land while working within a hunting life-world today. Trappers talk about how trapping requires knowing the land and relating to the animals in respectful ways and knowing how to invite them into their traps. In order to dispel the imaginary of the cruel, dominator of animals it is tempting to turn instead to thoughts on mutualism, but it would be difficult to argue that trapping does not require some deception. Trapping is valued because it plays upon the signs and expectations lying between the past and the present and between domination and mutualism. Can the same be said for other development alternatives?


Rob Wishart (PhD University of Alberta) is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He has done fieldwork with Gwich'in in the Northwest Territories and with Ojibwe in southwestern Ontario, Canada on contemporary hunting existences. As a member of the ERC Arctic Domus Project, he is conducting ethnographic, ethnohistorical, and history of science research related to human-animal relations in the Canadian North. His current work also focuses on mining, petroleum development, and wildlife management in the Western Canadian sub-Arctic.


The seminar will take place in the seminar room on the 3rd floor, Frederiks gate 2 (Entrance via back door on Kristian IVs gate - ring the doorbell for the third floor) . After the seminar there will be room for informal conversations and drinks.


SENK, Geoffrey Gowlland and Tone Wang
Published Aug. 29, 2017 1:47 PM - Last modified Oct. 3, 2017 11:36 AM