Michaela Fenske

What carp make of Franconians

Multispecies societies viewed through the lens of European Ethnology

Kurzlink: https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART104092

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The carp was awarded the title ‘Fish of the Century’ in Germany as recently as 1999. Now, however, at the start of the 21st century, the popularity of this fish is generally declining behind others such as trout and salmon. Interestingly, this is not the case in Franconia, to some extent at least. Franconia (the northern part of Bavaria) is one of the key German regions for pond farming, a sector that is gaining in significance worldwide. The carp is part of a rural economy that, in some ways, could serve as an example in terms of helping to resolve the crises of our times. This article discusses the potential of a multispecies ethnography by focusing on the carp as a culturally significant creature in Franconia. Multispecies ethnography sees humans as part of a sociobiological context that shapes both the conditions for life in its range of influence and the living beings that interact within them. In this perspective, carp create space in the respective local society and add value to it: They are a source of food and income, maintain places of refuge for rare animals and plants, influence the social order of human societies and shape the future. The example of carp in Franconia opens up the perspective of an innovative field of research in European Ethnology, enabling the discipline to once again find answers to current societal challenges in the context of international anthropologies.

multispecies ethnography, regional cultural analysis, rural economics domestication, fish farming