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The World Hunt

The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals

John F. Richards
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 157
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  • Book Info
    The World Hunt
    Book Description:

    Presented here is the final and most coherent section of a sweeping classic work in environmental history,The Unending Frontier. The World Huntfocuses on the commercial hunting of wildlife and its profound global impact on the environment and the early modern world economy. Tracing the massive expansion of the European quest for animal products,The World Huntexplores the fur trade in North America and Russia, cod fishing in the North Atlantic, and whaling and sealing on the world's oceans and coastlands.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95847-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Edmund Burke III

    John F. Richards was a remarkable scholar of South Asia whose many books and articles have permanently shaped the South Asian field. But for much of his career he was also a world historian and an environmental historian, concerned initially with locating the history of pre-1750 India in a worldhistorical context. In his final book,The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), he turned his historical global imagination loose. The result was a remarkable synthetic portrait of the environmental transformations of the (often forgotten) early modern period.

    Originally published as...

    (pp. xi-xx)
    J.R. McNeill

    The World Hunt,by John F. Richards, is an extract from a 682-page book calledThe Unending Frontier,a study of world environmental history in the early modern centuries (c. 1500 to 1800). The text remains the same as that which the University of California Press published in 2003. InThe World Hunt,Richards explores the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of commercial exploitation of fur-bearing animals, of deer, and of whales and walruses.

    Commercial hunting, fishing, and whaling have long histories. Ancient Sumer had fish markets. Hunting to supply Roman circuses and gladiatorial combats with exotic animals was a...

  6. Chapter 1 Furs and Deerskins in Eastern North America
    (pp. 1-54)

    European maritime contact with the New World thrust commercialized human predation across the North Atlantic Ocean. Commercial hunting proved to be the most lucrative way to exploit the northernmost regions of the Americas. Much of the early impetus for maritime travel to North America came from the profits to be made from hunting, killing, processing, and shipping animal skins back to Europe. Europeans found several prey species—beavers, foxes, marten, and other furbearers, and deer—that yielded high-value commodities for the home market with its pent-up demand for fur. Windfall exploitation of abundant New World fur-bearing animals raised the European...

  7. Chapter 2 The Hunt for Furs in Siberia
    (pp. 55-84)

    By the late 1500s, after Russia’s conquest of the khanate of Sibir, Siberia’s vast lands lay open to exploration, conquest, and exploitation. Most of Siberia’s soils, vegetation, and climate did not hold out great appeal to the Russian peasant cultivator. Instead, Siberia offered the products of the hunt to Russian frontiersmen. Russians had long hunted or purchased from indigenous hunter societies the furs of the north. Furs were one of the most valued consumption items in Russia and one of its most profitable exports.

    For centuries, the temperate-zone Christian, Islamic, and Confucian worlds have demanded high-quality furs. In these colder...

  8. Chapter 3 Cod and the New World Fisheries
    (pp. 85-111)

    From the Baltic to the Barents Sea, the fishing grounds of the northeastern Atlantic and Arctic had long produced valuable catches of cod for European markets. Fishermen had identified and were exploiting each of the major populations of cod in the northwestern Atlantic. Since the thirteenth century, there had been a long-distance trade in stockfish—dried and salted cod—dominated by merchants of the Hanseatic League. From Icelandic waters, European fishermen pushed onward to discover gratifyingly copious stocks of cod, a familiar resource, off Labrador and Newfoundland.

    In the 1490s, Basque fishermen apparently sailed regularly across the icy waters of...

  9. Chapter 4 Whales and Walruses in the Northern Oceans
    (pp. 112-154)

    Before 1500, favorably situated coastal communities around the world killed and consumed whales in a largely passive, opportunistic enterprise. Shorebased fishing communities in Arctic waters off the east and west coasts of North and South America, Siberia, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, and northern Europe intercepted whales as they made their migratory rounds each year.¹ The whales taken were those vulnerable species that appeared regularly in coastal waters and were slow-moving enough to be taken by men in small boats wielding harpoons and lances or even nets. The greater part of the catch went for subsistence needs, although all whaling...

  10. INDEX
    (pp. 155-161)