3rd World Congress of Environmental History

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The Gift of the Whale: Economics, Entropy, and Cosmologies of the Nonhuman

Tue, July 23, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Centro de Filosofia e Ciencias Humanas (CFH), Auditorio do Bloco E


Whales have been hunted by three distinct groups of hunters in the Bering Sea between the 1840s and 1970s: indigenous Yupik and Inupiaq whalers, capitalist commercial whalers, and communist industrial whalers. What a whale is and how it should be valued became known through the labor of their killing, labor that offers examples of how the three different cosmologies of production understood work, pain, and death human and otherwise. This paper examines if and how whales' documented responses to these cosmologies differed, to ask if the content of human ideas prompted demonstrably different adaptations of bowhead whale culture.