Anthropology of whaling issues: the present and future of whaling cultures (NME panel)

Nobuhiro Kishigami (National Museum of Ethnology)
Nobuhiro Kishigami
Start time:
15 May, 2014 at 8:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The history of whaling is more than 5,000 years old. But human interactions with whales have been changed since the 1970s when many European governments and environmental NOGs began the anti-whaling campaign. This session discusses the contemporary whaling issues and future of whaling cultures.

Long abstract:

Whales have become increasingly powerful symbols in environmental and conservation movements. Public whale displays and whale-watching in particular have been important in fostering whales as 'eco-symbols'. However, these non-consumptive uses of whales are only one aspect of a long history of human-whale interaction. Humans have used whales for many other purposes, most notably as food and industrial resources. Human-whale relationships are regionally and historically highly varied. However, at the UN human-environment conference held at Stockholm in 1972, the USA representative argued that we could not protect our environment without protecting whales. This move was further backed by environmental NGOs such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace, and many European countries adopted anti-whaling positions, no longer regarding whales as industrial resources. In 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) amended the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), establishing a moratorium on the harvesting of 13 species of large whales beginning in 1986. Since then, whaling issues has become internationally political rather than scientific. This session discusses the contemporary whaling issues and considers the future of whaling cultures in anthropological perspectives. The cases presented in this session include the contemporary small-scale coastal whaling in Japan, indigenous whaling in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, and Solomon Islands, food culture related to whale dishes in Japan and Korea, historical changes in distribution and consumption of dolphin meat in Japan, etc.