Conference Title Tradition in Search of a Rationale: The Future of Hunting in Japan and North America University of Iowa, December 2-3, 2016 Illinois room (348), Iowa Memorial Union. Abstract

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Conference Title

Tradition in Search of a Rationale: The Future of Hunting in Japan and North America

University of Iowa, December 2-3, 2016

Illinois room (348), Iowa Memorial Union.


Hunters of wild animals have long been viewed with some disdain by members of the general public, especially in urban areas far removed from field and forest.  Subsistence hunting may have been deemed acceptable in the past as a means of survival, but what justifies taking the lives of wild animals in the present day, when for most hunters it is no longer an economic necessity?  This conference will highlight the experience and perspectives of the matagi—traditional hunters, most famously of bear, in the mountainous beech forests of northeastern Japan.  The matagi are similar to Native American and other indigenous hunters in recognizing nature as a conscious presence—one that provides for and sustains them but expects responsible conduct in return.  This informs their active involvement in local ecosystems.  A simple stance against hunting is complicated by the fact that the proliferation of certain animal populations may threaten the existence of other species—whether animal or plant.  The matagi are now promoting their role as vital to maintaining a healthy balance among these various components.  Their expertise may hold particular relevance for the problem of “urban wildlife,” which is gaining significance worldwide as human populations continue to encroach upon the habitat of other species (as in North America) or as depopulation of rural villages erodes the buffer zone that once surrounded urban areas (as in Japan).  Should our approach to the problem be control or accommodation?  Traditional hunters like the matagi may offer some insight.

Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, International Programs at the University of Iowa, and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.


Friday, 12/2          10:00     Downing Thomas, Morten Schlütter: Welcome from International
Programs, and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies

                                10:05     Scott Schnell, Introduction to Japan’s mountainous interior and the

hunting tradition

                                11:00     Taguchi, Hiromi: The matagi in historical and cultural context

                                12:00     Lunch break

                                1:30        Taguchi, Hiromi: Matagi and Asian black bear in the present: the

Traditional Hunters Conference/Matagi Summit initiative

                                2:45        Matsuhashi, Mitsuo: On being a matagi: personal observations and


                                3:30        Saito, Shigemi: On being a matagi: personal observations and


                                4:00        Film: “Eight Days of Returning to the Matagi Life”

 Saturday 12/3    9:00        Scott Schnell: Coexisting with nature?: the ambivalent role of matagi
hunting tradition in environmentalist discourse

                              10:00     Takahashi, Mitsuhiko: Current state of traditional hunting in Japan

from a legal perspective

                              11:00     Marc Boglioli: Contemporary American hunting and the moral

economy of killing

                              12:00     Lunch break

                              1:30        James St. Arnold: The role of hunting in Ojibwe culture

                              2:30        Mary Zeiss Stange: Keynote: Traces, trances and tracks: Aboriginal

and Bushmen hunting, art, and the re-enchantment of the world

                              3:30        General discussion

 Featured speakers:

TAGUCHI, Hiromi, Professor of History and Anthropology, Tohoku University of Art & Design

TAKAHASHI, Mitsuhiko, Associate Professor of Environmental Law, Toyama University

MATSUHASHI, Mitsuo, Matagi hunter, Kita-Akita

SAITŌ, Shigemi, Matagi hunter, Oguni, Yamagata

Marc A. BOGLIOLI, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Drew University

H. James ST. ARNOLD, Project Director/Career Development Coordinator, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

Mary Zeiss STANGE, Professor Emerita of Women's Studies and Religion, Skidmore College

Scott SCHNELL, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Iowa
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