Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version

Hunting in Amazonia

  • Glenn H. ShepardJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi Email author 
Hunting is an important food source for Amazon forest dwellers, indigenous and nonindigenous alike. Hunting and predation also represent central concepts in the worldview and social organization of native Amazonian peoples. Both approaches – hunting as a subsistence activity or ecological adaptation and hunting as a social and symbolic practice – are essential for understanding the impact of local livelihoods on Amazonian biodiversity. Unfortunately, the divergent methods and theoretical orientations of these potentially complimentary approaches rarely if ever create a dialog in the scientific literature.
Fig. 1

A Matsigenka bow hunter on the upper Manu River, Peru, 1996

Hunting became a central concern in the 1970s for anthropologists attempting to understand the supposedly low levels of sociocultural complexity of Amazonian indigenous peoples (Fig. 1). Archeologist Betty Meggers (1971) suggested that Amazonia was a “false paradise,” imposing ecological limitations on the growth and soci ...

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