Hunting and/or Gathering: Gender and Fishing Practices in Polynesia

Author(s): Alexis Ohman

Year: 2017


Fish and fishing occupy an intersection between meat and not-meat, hunting and gathering. As such, it does not fall into a clean division of labor by gender. Fish were acquired, processed, and distributed according to distinct sociocultural and sociopolitical codes of conduct that could result in death if not properly carried out: either accidental death from ciguatera toxicity or execution as punishment for breaking kapu/taboo. Tuna is well-known to be one of the most prized animals in Polynesian culture, and as such, is often studied in attempts to add political, economic, and ritual nuance to understanding foodways patterns. However, other fish should be given analytical consideration beyond being lumped together as reef fish. The pufferfish is one of the most commonly recovered fish specimens in archaeological contexts due to the exceptionally durable nature of its mouth bones. It has also ethnographically been noted as a fish that can be "gathered" by women and children due to the ease in collection once stunned, which is a stark contrast to the tuna hunts that men embarked on. This paper seeks to engage in a discussion about gender and fishing in Polyneisa via the archaeological evidence from a site on Mo’orea, Society Islands.

Cite this Record

Hunting and/or Gathering: Gender and Fishing Practices in Polynesia. Alexis Ohman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431397)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16117