The ethnographic record is replete with accounts of trapping as a technology of hunting yet traps have seldom drawn the attention of scholars as objects of theory in their own right. This panel correct this by centering attention on 'traps' as spaces of ethnographic and theoretical productivity.
The ethnographic record is replete with accounts of trapping as a technology of hunting. Yet they failed to engage the attention of scholars as objects of theory in their own right. This panel aims to correct this omission by centering attention on 'traps' as spaces of ethnographic and theoretical productivity. We believe that traps offer new ground with which to rethink the comparative project of anthropology. On the one hand, traps work as interfaces between human and nonhuman forms and agencies. They blur classical distinctions between prey and predator, subject and object, nature and culture, epistemology and ontology. Secondly, traps work as ecological infrastructures. They artefactualize the density of human and nonhuman entanglements. Third, traps are space-time technologies in their own right. They are framing devices where acceleration, anticipation or waiting take hold over bodies and environments in various capacities.
A focus on traps may offer new insights into (say) the deep history of archaeology and anthropology, where a focus on traps may help rethink the environmental relations between domestication and hunting. Traps have also played a prominent role in the history of experimental science, e.g. in quantum physics, where the effects of entanglements are rendered visible through the use of ion traps. And as Gell famously noted, traps are a common ploy in the art world, where they are employed as technologies of enchantment.
We are curious to hear from scholars interested in reporting on ethnographic traps that may inspire new projects in anthropological comparison and description.