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A Whale of a Difference: Southern Right Whale Culture and the Tasman World's Living Terrain of Encounter

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This article examines the cross-cultural histories that developed around the bay whale fisheries of the Tasman World (Australia and New Zealand) in the early nineteenth century. Using new insights about whale culture from marine biology and data gleaned from whaling logs, it posits that changing right whale cultures significantly influenced the ways that Aboriginals and Māori participated in the industry, and thus deeply shaped colonial histories there. This case study presents evidence that historians need to consider animal cultures as important parts of human histories and that doing so can provide unexpected answers to large historical questions.

Keywords: Tasman World; Whaling; animal history; capitalism; cross-cultural contact

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2019

This article was made available online on June 13, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "A Whale of a Difference: Southern Right Whale Culture and the Tasman World’s Living Terrain of Encounter".

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  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2020) of 0.714. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.735.
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