Session: #486

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Hunter-Fisher Social Ecology in Forested Environments: Approaching Boreal Naturecultures
The boreal forests of the northern hemisphere, also referred to as taiga, stretch almost continuously across the high latitudes of Europe, Asia and North America, forming the world’s largest biome. The economic and ecological aspects of subarctic forests have been important for generations of people and their significance prevails, especially in view of today’s pressing challenges of global warming and the rising demand for resources.
The cold climatic conditions and the short growing season of northern boreal forests, unsuitable for agriculture, have favored hunter-fisher subsistence for thousands of years, from the beginning of the Holocene until today. As has been seen in modern indigenous forager communities, an interwoven relationship between humans and the boreal forest characterizes lifeways and cosmologies. This entanglement is expressed through several adaptive strategies based on multi-species systems. Strong human-animal ties are reflected in nomadic lifeways based on animal seasonal movements and associated seasonal shifts of hunting and fishing grounds, reindeer husbandry, and the use of dogs for hunting. Of special importance can be mass harvesting strategies of (seasonally) abundant resources such as salmon or shellfish, potentially leading to surplus economies and the rise to territoriality and sedentism, social stratification, the display of wealth and power through terraforming or specific classes of material culture and thus to possible beginnings of social inequalities and conflicts.
We welcome contributions that take into view trajectories of social complexity in hunter-fisher communities of the northern hemisphere and papers that investigate the role forest environments play in shaping lifeways of past and modern forager groups. We want to discuss these naturecultures in terms of resource exploitation, housing, transportation, belief systems and subsistence strategies, including mobility, storage and seasonality.
boreal forests, hunter-fisher, naturecultures, multi-species systems, social complexity
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Main organiser:
Tanja Schreiber (Germany) 1
Henny Piezonka (Germany) 1
Kerkko Nordqvist (Finland) 2
Natalya Chairkina (Russia) 3
Barry Taylor (United Kingdom) 4
1. Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University
2. Department of Archaeology, University of Helsinki
3. Institute of History and Archeology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
4. Department of History & Archaeology, University of Chester