Feathered Entanglements
340 pages, 6 x 9
31 b&w photos, 4 maps, 7 charts, 14 tables
Release Date:15 Oct 2024

Feathered Entanglements

Human-Bird Relations in the Anthropocene

UBC Press

As they migrated across great distances, ancient humans may have used birdsong and bird sightings to find food and water in unseen territory. Today, attending to birds helps scientists track not only avian migration but also environmental change. Birds remain our sentinels.

Feathered Entanglements canvasses human–bird relations across the Indo-Pacific, exploring what birds teach us about how to live with other species amid the challenges of the Anthropocene. In an era of seemingly uncontrollable industrialization, we grow increasingly disconnected from the natural world, and bird-related beliefs and practices are being compromised by consumerism and climate change. Yet, as this fascinating book shows, birds are still, and have always been, featured in the daily life, symbolic systems, and material culture of humans, from pigeon keeping on the rooftops of Amman to the shamanic rituals of Indigenous Amis in Taiwan. Ancient Austronesian traditions include the use of birds to divine the outcome of the hunt or the arrival of typhoons. Fishers in contemporary China and Japan still work with cormorants to secure their catch. Every human society has woven birds into its myths, metaphors, and art.

In times of intensifying ecological crisis, we need, more than ever, to appreciate and protect nonhuman lives. Feathered Entanglements embraces the connection between birds, humans, and our shared world.

Scholars and graduate students of anthropology will want this collection on their shelves for the sophisticated, wide-ranging insights it offers on anthropological theory and its multi-species ethnographical approach to anthropology beyond the human. Birders and amateur ornithologists will also be drawn to its stories of human–bird interactions.

Written by well-experienced scholars, this book will set a new milestone in ethno-ornithology. It is rare to see a volume exclusively focusing on birds and providing sophisticated insights into anthropological theory. I am excited for this book! Shiaki Kondo, Intercultural Studies, Kobe University

Scott E. Simon is a professor in the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa and began studying human-bird relations as a visiting professor at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan. Among his publications are four ethnographies of Taiwan: Sweet and Sour: Life-Worlds of Taipei Women Entrepreneurs; Tanners of Taiwan: Life Strategies and National Culture; Sadyaq Balae! L’autochtonie formosane dans tous ses états; and Truly Human: Indigeneity and Indigenous Resurgence on Formosa. Frédéric Laugrand is a professor at Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium and director of its Laboratoire d’anthropologie prospective (LAAP). He is the author and editor of numerous books, most recently co-authoring, with Antoine Laugrand, Des voies de l’ombre: Quand les chauves-souris sèment le trouble; with Cunera Buijs and Kim Van Dam, Picturing Places, People, and Practices in the Arctic: Anthropological Perspectives on Representation; and, with Jarich G. Oosten, Inuit, Oblate Missionaries, and Grey Nuns in the Keewatin, 1865–1965.


Introduction: Humans and Birds in the Anthropocene / Frédéric Laugrand and Scott E. Simon

Part 1: Birds Are Good to Be With (Birds as Partners)

1 Multiple Joining Methods among Cormorants, Fishers and Fishing Techniques: A Case Study of Regional Similarities and Differences in Cormorant Fishing in China / Shuhei Uda

2 Bird Singing Contests Rules and Communication Frames for Animals and Men: Sonorous Ethnography with the Bulbul Breeders of Southern Thailand / Etienne Dalemans

3 The Rooftop of the City: Pigeon-Keeping Practices and the Construction of Masculinities in Amman / Perrine Lachenal

4 From the Ground to the Canopy: Introduction to the Tarkine Forest through its Birds / Aïko Cappe and Colin Schildhauer

5 Entangled Lives: Toward a Phenomenology of Amateur Birding in Modern Japan / Scott E. Simon

Part 2: Birds Are Good to Think With (Birds in Symbolic Systems)

6 Three Birds and the Emotions in the Central Himalayas / John Leavitt

7 Time and Space in Birdlore among the Ibaloy of the Philippines Cordillera / Frédéric Laugrand, Antoine Laugrand, Jazil Tamang, and Gliseria Magapin

8 Birds as Metaphors and Much Else in a Changing Indonesian Community / Gregory Forth

Part 3: Birds Are Good to Craft With (Birds in Material Culture)

9 "Good to Eat" or "Good to Make": Ethnographical Archaeology on Changes in the Representation of Birds / Atsushi Nobayashi

10 Birds as Figurative Patterns and Artefacts as Efficient Agents: Agency and Ritual Behaviour among the Mentawai of Bat Rereiket (Siberut, Indonesia) / Lionel Simon and Syarul Sakaliou

11 Environmental Shift in the Entangled Anthropocene: Use and Abuse of Birds in Amis Ritual Practices of Taiwan / Yi-tze Lee

12 Epilogue: The Emergence of Ethno-Ornithology / Andrew G. Gosler


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