A Theory of ‘Animal Borders’

Thoughts and Practices toward Non-human Animals among the G|ui Hunter-Gatherers

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 Kyoto University kazuyoshi.sugawara@gmail.com
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Abstract

The term ‘animal borders’ refers to both the border between humans and animals and to that which demarcates the former according to stances toward the latter. The practices toward animals among the G|ui foragers inspire fundamental reflection on ‘animal borders’. Their mythical characters are personified animals. An invisible agency, translated as ‘to be affected’, permeates the G|ui everyday life. A complex code of food regulation is associated with this effect. Violating the taboo on specific meat may lead to madness that causes the imitation of animals. The G|ui pay particular attention to the messages from many ornithic species. The following ethnographic descriptions confirm the continuity of the G|ui corporeality with animal existence and further show the potentiality of metamorphosis. This scope requires a new understanding of ‘naturalism’.

Contributor Notes

Kazuyoshi Sugawara is a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Kyoto University. His research includes primatological studies of face-to-face interactions among Japanese macaques and the social organization of Ethiopian hybrid baboons, as well as long-term ethnographic research among the G|ui San. His many publications include Anthropology of Conversation: The Life-World of the Bushman (1998, in Japanese) and An Encyclopedia of G|ui and G||ana Culture and Society (2010, co-edited with Jirō Tanaka).

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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