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(P21) Ethno-ornithology: advances in collaborative research

Convenors: Mark Bonta, Pennsylvania State University; Robert Gosford, Central Land Council, Alice Springs

Abstract: Collaborative ethno-ornithology examines methods and results of research on the interrelationships of people and birds. Papers examine the process and outcomes of collaboration between hunter gatherers and outside researchers—social scientists as well as natural scientists—and advances in understanding of human-bird interactions.

Keywords: birds, ethno-ornithology, collaborative research, interspecies communication, multispecies ethnography

Format: standard panel

Precirculated materials: none required


We wish to build upon themes explored in CHAGS 11 (“Human-bird relationships in the study of hunters and gatherers” sessions) that highlighted deep significances of birds in hunter-gatherer societies by focusing our attention on results and ramifications of ethno-ornithology as a collaborative venture involving outside researchers, members of hunting-gathering societies, and the birds themselves. To this end, we solicit papers exemplifying collaborative methods, outlooks, and goals, wherein members of hunter-gatherer societies work actively with outside researchers to unravel multifaceted historical and contemporary meanings and functions of avifauna. What are the origins of such research collaborations, and how are knowledge access, interpretation, and reproduction negotiated (including within the framework of broader ethnobiological projects)? How are ontologically and epistemologically distinct ornithologies reconciled between local people and outsiders as well as between social and natural scientists? What debacles are encountered, and how are they confronted? What benefits accrue to birds and to hunter-gatherer societies from these collaborations—how, for example, are bio-cultural conservation initiatives enriched, and what pitfalls are encountered along the way (given that bird conservation and protection of bio-cultural heritage may stem from quite distinct legislative, ethical, and scientific roots)? We also solicit novel insights into hunter-gatherer culture, avifaunal culture, and the dynamic intercultural spaces created by the interactions between people and birds. What have people learned from birds, and vice versa? How do birds and people communicate with each other? What emotional connections exist between people and birds? How do birds and people share memories? We welcome theoretical and speculative papers exploring the significance of bodies of emerging literature (e.g. honeyguides, fire-following raptors) as discussed and understood by groups of collaborators. We favor co-authorship with Indigenous researchers and participation of Indigenous collaborators in this session.




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