The rugged west coast. Photograph by the author.
A Montagu’s harrier on spring migration in Malta. Photograph by Aron Tanti, published with permission.
Trappers’ hides (duri) positioned strategically along a coastal cliff edge to intercept incoming migrants. Photograph by the author.
A hunter immersed in the spring landscape. Photograph by the author.
Cherchez l’oiseau: in the north of Gozo, a patch of land that is reserved for hunting is both naturally on a leading line (a cliff edge close to the coast) and a ‘made’ place through the planting of eucalyptus trees. Photograph by the author.
Birdwatchers congregate ħdejn iċ-ċipressa, Buskett, on a typical September afternoon. Photograph by the author.
The T-shirts worn by CABS volunteers make it clear what the intention is. Photograph by the author.
Uncertain future: a turtle dove. Photograph by Aron Tanti. Published with permission.
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Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology
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Birds of Passage
Hunting and Conservation in Malta
256 pages, 21 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-766-8 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2020)
ISBN 978-1-80073-909-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Not Yet Published (August 2023)
eISBN 978-1-78920-767-5 eBook
“[the author] succeeds in convincing his reader that what happens in this small territory is of the utmost importance for the future of conservation and that the Mediterranean Sea is an exotic place where relations between humans and birds find complex and entangled forms.” • Conservation and Society
“[The author’s] writing consistently provides lucid and highly engaging, often provocative accounts, with linguistic ease and flow of arguments that make for a highly enjoyable and enriching read…This is a publication that will appeal to readers interested in nature and culture, and hunting and conservation, in the Maltese context. It is evidence of meticulous research, and written with acute analytical insight and dogged determination to assume nothing, listen intensely to all voices in the field, and offer a multi‐level exposition of the interconnections between the social, cultural and organisational worldviews of hunters and conservationists.” • Times of Malta
“In his exceptionally well written Birds of Passage: Hunting and Conservation in Malta Mark-Anthony Falzon has sent us – through his careful, cautious, open-hearted, even-handed probings – along so many avenues of fresh reflection… It is a model of reasoned argument.” • Through 360 Degrees Blog
“This is an excellent piece of scholarship on the anthropology of conservation (bird hunting and trapping) in Malta. It represents an important contribution to conservation studies and to the anthropology of the Mediterranean.” • Paul Sant-Cassia, University of Malta
“In this compelling study of bird hunting and trapping in Malta, Mark Anthony Falzon makes an important contribution to anthropological understanding of environmental conflicts in Europe. Falzon takes his readers on a journey into Maltese hunters' and trappers' lives, exploring how their "passion" for birds is tied up with ideas of masculinity, class, and national belonging in often surprising ways. Careful to avoid sensationalising or condemning what for many is a deeply controversial practice, Falzon builds a sensitive – and highly accessible – ethnographic portrait that should be read by anyone interested in issues of the environment and environmentalism in the world today." • Dr Tom Widger, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Durham
Bird migration between Europe and Africa is a fraught journey, particularly in the Mediterranean, where migratory birds are shot and trapped in large numbers. In Malta, thousands of hunters share a shrinking countryside. They also rub shoulders with a strong bird-protection and conservation lobby. Drawing on years of ethnographic fieldwork, this book traces the complex interactions between hunters, birds and the landscapes they inhabit, as well as the dynamics and politics of bird conservation. Birds of Passage looks at the practice and meaning of hunting in a specific context, and raises broader questions about human-wildlife interactions and the uncertain outcomes of conservation.
Mark-Anthony Falzon is a social anthropologist at the University of Malta and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. His publications include Cosmopolitan Connections: The Sindhi Diaspora, 1860-2000 (OUP-India, 2005) and Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research (Ashgate, 2009).
Subject: Anthropology (General)Environmental Studies (General)
Area: Southern Europe
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