Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Presented by the Japan Foundation, UI International Programs, and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, "Tradition in Search of a Rationale," an upcoming international conference at the UI, will bring together scholars and guest speakers Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, 2016, to address the future of hunting in Japan and North America. 

The conference will take place Friday, December 2 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Illinois Room on the third floor of the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus.

Hunting is often viewed with disdain by members of the general public, especially in urban areas far removed from field and forest. But a simple stance against hunting is complicated by the fact that proliferation of certain animals may threaten the existence of other species. Should our approach to the problem be control or accommodation? This conference will highlight the experience and perspectives of the matagi—traditional hunters, most famously of bears, in the mountainous beech forests of northeastern Japan. The matagi recognize nature as a conscious presence—one that protects and sustains them but expects responsible conduct in return. Their perceptions and expertise may hold particular relevance to the issue of “urban wildlife,” which is gaining significance worldwide as human populations continue to encroach upon the habitat of other species (as in North America) or as depopulation of rural villages erodes the buffer zone that once surrounded urban areas (as in Japan).

Conference presenters will include: 

Hiromi Taguchi, professor of history and anthropology, Tohoku University of Art and Design

Mitsuhiko Takahashi, associate professor of environmental law, Toyama University

Mitsuo Matuhashi,  matagi hunter, Kita-Akita

Shigemi Saito, matagi hunter, Oguni, Yamagata

Marc A. Boglioli, associate professor of anthropology, Drew University

H. James St. Arnold, project director/career development coordinator, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

Mary Zeiss Stange, professor emerita of women's studies and religion, Skidmore College

Scott Schnell, associate professor of anthropology, University of Iowa

Program schedule:


10:00 a.m. Downing Thomas, Morten Schlütter: Welcome from International Programs and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies

10:05 Scott Schnell, Introduction to Japan’s mountainous interior and the hunting tradition

11:00 Taguchi, Hiromi: The matagi in historical and cultural context

12:00 Lunch break

1:30 Taguchi, Hiromi: Matagi and Asian black bear in the present: the Traditional Hunters Conference/Matagi Summit initiative

2:45 Matsuhashi, Mitsuo: On being a matagi: personal observations and experiences

3:30 Saito, Shigemi: On being a matagi: personal observations and experiences

4:00 Film: “Eight Days of Returning to the Matagi Life”


9:00 a.m. Scott Schnell: Coexisting with nature?: the ambivalent role of matagi hunting tradition in environmentalist discourse

10:00 Takahashi, Mitsuhiko: Current state of traditional hunting in Japan from a legal perspective

11:00 Marc Boglioli: Contemporary American hunting and the moral economy of killing

12:00 Lunch break

1:30 James St. Arnold: The role of hunting in Ojibwe culture

2:30 Mary Zeiss Stange: Keynote: Traces, trances and tracks: Aboriginal and Bushmen hunting, art, and the re-enchantment of the world

3:30 General discussion

For more information, contact conference organizer Scott Schnell at scott-schnell@uiowa.edu.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Scott Schnell in advance at scott-schnell@uiowa.edu.