The Wake of the Whale: Hunter Societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic (Hardback)
  • The Wake of the Whale: Hunter Societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic (Hardback)
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The Wake of the Whale: Hunter Societies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic (Hardback)

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£23.95
Hardback 352 Pages
Published: 08/10/2018
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Despite declining stocks worldwide and increasing health risks, artisanal whaling remains a cultural practice tied to nature’s rhythms. The Wake of the Whale presents the art, history, and challenge of whaling in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, based on a decade of award-winning fieldwork.

Sightings of pilot whales in the frigid Nordic waters have drawn residents of the Faroe Islands to their boats and beaches for nearly a thousand years. Down in the tropics, around the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, artisanal whaling is a younger trade, shaped by the legacies of slavery and colonialism but no less important to the local population. Each culture, Russell Fielding shows, has developed a distinct approach to whaling that preserves key traditions while adapting to threats of scarcity, the requirements of regulation, and a growing awareness of the humane treatment of animals.

Yet these strategies struggle to account for the risks of regularly eating meat contaminated with methylmercury and other environmental pollutants introduced from abroad. Fielding considers how these and other factors may change whaling cultures forever, perhaps even bringing an end to this way of life.

A rare mix of scientific and social insight, The Wake of the Whale raises compelling questions about the place of cultural traditions in the contemporary world and the sacrifices we must make for sustainability.

Publication of this book was supported, in part, by a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674986374
Number of pages: 352
Dimensions: 235 x 162 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

The Wake of the Whale would be fascinating just for its rich ethnographic account of the history and present state of whaling in St. Vincent and the Faroe Islands. Yet, gradually, it also turns the mirror back on its readers, urging us to rethink our own attitudes to whaling. - Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Education

Russell Fielding’s multilayered assessment of artisanal whaling traditions unfolds as a riveting narrative. Readers entranced by the oceanic tales of writers such as Melville and Conrad will likewise find in The Wake of the Whale many colorful, firsthand accounts of seagoing experience to stir the imagination. Fielding’s book is not only provocative, discerning, and solidly researched, but a real page-turner. - John Gatta, literary critic and author of Making Nature Sacred

A wonderful storyteller, Fielding guides us with sensitivity and insight through the cultural, scientific, and ethical complexities of humanity’s long relationship with whales. In doing so, he illuminates the heart of our relationships with other animal species, both domestic and wild. - David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen

Russell Fielding compares whaling in two different communities and locations through a historical and sociocultural lens. He both respects the whalers, offering readers insight into the tradition, and honors environmental organizations protecting whales. A well-documented, well-written, and balanced book. - Jóan Pauli Joensen, University of the Faroe Islands

The Wake of the Whale is a truly magnificent piece of work, an epic tale of two worlds connected by North Atlantic currents and the creatures that navigate them. Artisanal whaling, an ancient communal practice, faces multiple threats in the Caribbean and North Atlantic territories, the largest of which may be the pollution of the ocean and its deleterious effects on biodiversity and health. - Priya Kissoon, University of the West Indies

The Wake of the Whale provides detailed historical, sociocultural, geographic, and political insight on a practice that is considered by many to be taboo. Readers, whether for or against whaling, will be challenged on many of the issues that underpin their positions. Some may even defect to the other side. - Janice Cumberbatch, University of the West Indies

An enjoyable read…The Wake of the Whale provokes numerous critical thoughts regarding the morality of different practices in post-domestic societies. - Benedict Singelton, Conservation and Society

A rare mix of scientific and social insight, The Wake of the Whale raises compelling questions about the place of cultural traditions in the contemporary world and the sacrifices we must make for sustainability. - Mae Dorricott, Caribbean Compass

A thought-provoking page-turner…Contributes to the literature of contemporary global cultural geography and environmental history by weaving together the landscapes of two geographically distant places and peoples. - Chie Sakakibara, AAG Review of Books

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