New Book by Gregory Forth

How do people know and classify animals? 'Culture' is just part of the answer

Anthropology staff - 13 April 2016

Why the Porcupine Is Not a Bird is a comprehensive analysis of knowledge of animals and human-animal relations among the Nage people of central Flores in Indonesia.

Gregory Forth's in-depth discussion of how the Nage people conceptualize their relationship to animals covers their naming and classification, their symbolic and practical uses, and the changing ecology of central Flores. His study reveals the empirical basis of Nage classifications, which align surprisingly well with the taxonomies of modern biologists, and also shows how the Nage employ systems of symbolic and utilitarian classification distinct from their general taxonomy. Adopting a critical approach to current theory, Why the Porcupine Is Not a Bird is an important contribution to the fields of ethnobiology and cognitive anthropology.