The panel presents research into the politics and practices of dealing with wild animals such as bear, lynx, wolf or wildcat in Europe. It discusses the challenges that arise with the return and spread of wildlife and the associated hopes and conflicts from an anthropological perspective.
The recurrence of wild animals such as bear, wolf or boar in the recent years has become an issue controversially discussed and conflictually managed in many European countries. The fears, hopes and modes of acting associated with animals seemingly meet central concerns of modern societies. This makes wildlife today a subject of extensive negotiations between different milieus with contradictory relations to nature, to environment and to 'the other species'. The Panel intends to be a forum for exchange of ethnographic encounters in this field. It invites to put up research from different countries, on various wild animals and especially on ways of managing wildlife for discussion. Focussed on the concepts of wilderness in the public the anthropological legacy of human-environment relationships will be evaluated in a field of exemplary social explosiveness. Therefore, studies concerning conflicts between different groups of interest (e.g. environmental protection, agriculture) at the level of representations and practices are of special interest. Within these social fields culturally defined spaces are negotiated with recourse to different stocks of knowledge - cultural memory, both expert and experiential knowledge - to become value orientations, life-world ontologies, and unavoidably subject of power relations. Further opportunities of panel presentations lie in anthropological approaches to the political dimension of the field, in researches on the role of animal politics, the administration and transfer of knowledge. Contributions that make the return of the 'savage' to the starting point for a discussion of the potentials of Human-Animal Studies and Multi-Species-Ethnography are particularly welcome.