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Life as a Hunt: Thresholds of Identities and Illusions on an African Landscape

By: Stuart A Marks(Author)

518 pages, 25 illustrations

Berghahn Books Ltd

Hardback | Jul 2016 | #235970 | ISBN-13: 9781785331572
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £107.00 $137/€119 approx

About this book

The 'extensive wilderness' of Zambia's central Luangwa Valley is the homeland of the Valley Bisa whose cultural practices have enriched this environment for centuries. Beginning with the intrusions of warlords and later British colonials, successive generations have experienced the callousness and challenges of colonialism. Their homeland, a slender corridor surrounded by three national parks and an escarpment, is a microcosm of the political, economic and cultural battlefields surrounding most African protected areas today. The story of the Valley Bisa diverges from the myths that conservationists, administrators, and philanthropists, tell about Africa's environmental and wildlife crises.

"Few academic books display such depth as does this one, but then few anthropologists devote over five decades to the same communities and issues. Anthropologist Marks first worked among Zambia's Valley Bisa people in 1966, returning frequently for further research. The result is a masterwork of description, interpretation, and self-reflection."

"This is a superb book. It brings together Stuart Marks' detailed long-term work on hunting and other issues among the Bisa of the Manyamadzi Corridor of Zambia since the 1960s."
– Robert K. Hitchcock, Michigan State University

"A magisterial presentation about an African people, the landscapes they create and survive in, their own history and how that often differs from others' histories of them, and their ever-changing store of knowledge and experiences."
– Gary Haynes, University of Nevada, Reno

"An immensely readable ethnography that combines solid, in-depth, grounded evidence with a rare, and envious, literary flair – this should be compulsory reading for all those concerned with 'conservation' in Africa."
– Rob Gordon, University of Vermont, University of the Free State, and Cologne University


List of Illustrations

Introduction: On Poaching an Elephant: Calling the Shots and Following the Ricochets


Chapter 1. History and Circumstance: On becoming and Being Bisa
Chapter 2. Creating and Sustaining a Good Life within a Difficult Environment
Chapter 3. Never an Isolated Place Suspended in A-Historic Space


Chapter 4. A Cultural Grid: Making Sense of the Natural World
Chapter 5. Caused to Hunt: Life Histories of Three Generations (1903-2003)
Chapter 6. Gameful Pursuits in the Bush: coping with Process and Uncertainty
Chapter 7. Lineage Provisioning through Hunting: Changes in Scope and Scale
Chapter 8. Muzzle-loaders and Snares: Weapons within their Cultural Contexts
Chapter 9. Buffalo Mystique: Protein, Privilege, Power and Politics


Chapter 10. On Coping within a Cornucopia of Uncertain, Constant Changes

Afterword: Readings ‘Out Loud’ about Land and Wildlife as Properties

Notes Section

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Stuart Marks was Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Sciences at St. Andrews College, Laurinburg, N.C (1970-1983). He has worked as an independent scholar as well as a consultant to governments, international donor agencies and conservation NGOs. His other books on Zambia include Large Mammals and a Brave People (1976); The Imperial Lion (1984); and Discordant Village Voices (2014). He also wrote Southern Hunting in Black and White: Nature, History and Rituals in a Carolina Community (1991), an award-winning volume on his US Southern homeland.

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