27 Sep 2016 - 28 Sep 2016 All day Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge


Registration for the conference is now closed.



Chloe Nahum-Claudel (University of Cambridge)



The trap is… both a model of its creator, the hunter, and a model of its victim, the prey animal… traps communicate the idea of a nexus of intentionalities between hunters and prey animals, via material forms and mechanisms.

Alfred Gell 1999: 202-3

Entrapment is a privileged way into a nexus between human-animal relations and technology. There are many contexts in which an efficacious relationship between human and animal depends on a fusion of knowledge of animal behaviour and technological innovation or skill. Conservation practitioners have to locate, lure or trap an animal in order to collar, manipulate, measure and sample it. At sites of human-animal conflict, species relations are being urgently reconfigured through the deployment of novel technologies like bugs, radio collars and camera-traps. In this conference participants from all science, arts and humanities backgrounds are invited to expand their usual horizons of analysis to consider hunting traps alongside non-lethal devices used in conservation and zoological science, animal husbandry, sport and cinematography among other, as yet unimagined, contexts.

Hunting technologies have long been avidly documented in anthropology, archaeology and material culture studies. The best works are holistic and treat entrapment as a simultaneously cosmological, technological and sociological phenomena. A number of themes recur in these works: the concretisation of human-animal relations in a trap’s form; conceptions of efficacy and risk at the scene of capture; the potent fertilizing capacity of entrapment; and the practices of mimicry and concealment which propitiate the trap, including masking, linguistic constraints, and affective and moral imperatives.

Building on this small but rich vein of anthropological scholarship, the conference seeks to foster an experimental cross-disciplinary conversation about the ways traps and allied technologies serve as the medium for humans’ conceptual and practical engagement with other species.




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Pembroke College, and the Division of Social Anthropology. 


Administrative assistance: events@crassh.cam.ac.uk


Tuesday 27 September
8.45 - 9.15


9.15 - 9.30

Welcome and Introduction

9.30 - 11.00

Session 1: Trapping for alimentary predation: political-economy, sociality and cosmology

Chair and Discussant: Rane Willerslev (Anthropology, Aarhus)


Chloe Nahum-Claudel (Anthropology, Cambridge)

‘Subjected to the will of the traps’


Stuart Marks (Anthropology, Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

‘Snaring as Social Protest for Sustaining Local Identities and Access to the “Game”’

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00

Carlos Sautchuk (Anthropology, Brasilia) 

‘Trap or Trust: technical objects in the Amazon'


Discussion led by Rane Willerslev

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 2: What is it about trapping in particular? Technology in space and time

Chair and Discussant: Philip Howell (Geography, Cambridge)


Garry Marvin (Anthropology, Roehampton) 

‘Trapping and Hunting: Knowledge, Skills, Engagements and Relationships’


Klint Janulis (Archaeology, Oxford)

‘Catching Time: how trapping may have influenced human cognition’  

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.00

Discussion led by Philip Howell

Wednesday 28 September
9.30 - 11.00

Session 3: Trapping for knowledge: non-lethal traps in human-animal conflict and coexistence

Chair and Discussant: Jonathan Saha (History, Leeds)


Nayanika Mathur (Social Anthropology, Sussex) 

‘The Beastly and the Beautiful: cage-ing and camera-trapping big cats in India’


Hannah Mumby (Zoology, Cambridge) 

‘Uses of technology in managing and studying elephants’

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00

Bill Adams (Geography, Cambridge)

‘Tagging Tony: bird tracking technology and geographies of migration’


Discussion led by Jonathan Saha

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 4: Conceptual and practical experiments with entrapment

Chair and Discussant: Christos Lynteris (Anthropology, Cambridge)


Hermione Spriggs (Anthropology of Other Anima, London)

‘Gobbles Sound OK’    


Alberto Corsin Jimenez (History of Science, Spanish National Research Council)

‘Three traps many’             

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.30

Natalie Forssman (Anthropology, Aarhus) and Meredith Root-Bernstein (Bioscience, Aarhus)

'Laying out their traps and cakes: tinkering towards deer aesthetics in a hunting landscape'


Final discussion led by Christos Lynteris

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