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Birders of AfricaHistory of a Network$
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Nancy J. Jacobs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300209617

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300209617.001.0001

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African Vernacular Birding Traditions

African Vernacular Birding Traditions

(p.29) Chapter 1 African Vernacular Birding Traditions
Birders of Africa

Nancy J. Jacobs

Yale University Press

This chapter seeks to establish that birds were materially present in African societies, that they held robust meanings across regions, and that the status of the man who knew animals—including birds—well enough to hunt them was recognized. Instead of suggesting a coherent and singular African vernacular tradition, the chapter generalizes around themes, including birds' classification among living creatures, their connections to the spirit world, their political significance, their material relations with people, and their significance to individuals. There are variations and consistencies across the broad canvas of sub-Saharan Africa. The range within regions suggests dynamic development of people–bird relations. Even if specialist birders did not constitute a category, people possessed a detailed knowledge of birds, an understanding of their power in human life, and reasons to know about them.

Keywords:   birds, sub-Saharan Africa, African societies, African vernacular tradition, people–bird relations, specialist birders

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