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Prager Vorträge: Hunting Practices on Display

Sustainability and Blood Sports in Fin de Siècle Europe through the Lens of the Environmental Humanities

Date of event
3. 4. 2024, 17:00 – 3. 4. 2024, 18:30
Place of event
Collegium Carolinum, 3th floor, Valentinská 91/1, Praha 1

Hunting is among humanity’s oldest cultural practices. It is a prism for progress in science and technology, for attempts to control nature, gender issues, and social change. Based on rigid rules and traditional values, it reflects status, power, and social belonging. While hunters are often considered mediators between the animal kingdom and the human world, the dualism of nature and culture has clearly revealed itself as a central sign of modernity during the past centuries.

In all of this Eastern Europe is usually considered as being arrested in catch-up development. But just as in the West, hunting practices increasingly carried here an urban understanding which focused less on subsistence than on sport, leisure and trophy hunting. Hunting societies were a major driving force in this. They also preferred modest activities like stalking (Pirschjagd) to the extravagant par force on horseback or the canned hunt which did not correspond to the supposedly bourgeois ethical code of ‘Waidgerechtigkeit’. These and other activities mediated the vivid discourse on sustainability, predator control and hunting ethics transpired between East and West at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The first International Hunting Exhibition in Vienna in 1910 marks the pinnacle of this exchange before the onslaught of the Great War. The trajectory of these discourses will be the focus of this presentation.

Timm Schönfelder is a postdoc researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig, Germany. In 2019, he defended his dissertation on Soviet agromeliorative infrastructures in the North Caucasus at the University of Tübingen, where he worked for the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center 923: ‘Threatened Orders. Societies under Stress’. He has published on Russian and Soviet environmental history, the history of science and technology, trade, agricultural policies, and political propaganda. For his second book, he investigates the manifold sociocultural implications of hunting practices in Eastern and Central Eastern Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Lecture series Prager Voträge are organised by Collegium Carolinum, Deutsches Historisches Institut Warschau and Leibniz Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa in cooperation with the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS and other institutions.

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