Accepted Paper:

Articulating shared materialities: interspecies communication in St'át'imc and Soiot fishing contexts  


Sarah Carmen Moritz (Concordia University)
Alexander Oehler (University of Northern British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper brings into dialogue critical observations about human-animal communication and movement in North American and Inner Asian indigenous fishing livelihoods.

Paper long abstract:

Human-animal relations, constituted through shared movements in Northern landscapes, fundamentally question and transcend conventional wild-tame and domination-subordination binaries. They provide fundamental insights into the distinct qualities of collaborative places of 'home'. This paper explores the intricacies of how fishing nets along the Fraser River of British Columbia, Canada and the Sorok River in Buriatia, Russia are engaged to foster complex enduring inter-species relationalities. We focus on animated aspects of the landscape, including water currents, temperatures, river curvature and ice, and the specific ways these are engaged, perceived, and articulated across time and space. St'át'imc fisherpersons practice a way of life possible only through intimate knowledge of the land. This relationship includes respect, ceremonial action regarding nets, water, and the spirit of the fish, and a promise to continually re-new a bond inviting fish to return abundantly to accept the river, nets, and humans as their home. Soiots of the Eastern Saian Mountains rely on alpine fisheries to complement herding and hunting activities. Drawing on intricate knowledge of seasonal fish migrations, fisherpersons abide by the protocols of landscape and waterbody spirit masters to encourage fish into their nets. Hot springs, ice surfaces and loose rock are invoked to mobilize fish, while escape routes are provided deliberately. Thus, our paper inquires how inter-coordinated movement in water encourages the accommodation of human and animal perspectives in situations of intentional congruence and discord. Importantly, contrasting observations allows us to postulate an inclusive, anti-materialist and documented argument about interspecies communication through movement across northern contexts.

Panel LL-AE05
Materialities of human-animal movement in northern landscapes