HomeBirds as Food: Cross Cultural and Health Perspectives

HomeBirds as Food: Cross Cultural and Health Perspectives

Birds as Food: Cross Cultural and Health Perspectives

Les oiseaux comme nourritures : perspectives interculturelles et questions de santé

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Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2011


La trente-cinquième conférence internationale de la Commission internationale d'anthropologie de l'alimentation et de la nutrition (ICAF) aura pour thème « les oiseaux comme nourritures : perspectives interculturelles et questions de santé ». Elle se tiendra dans les locaux de l'Université de médecine de Vienne (Autriche) du 13 au 15 juillet 2012.



The 35th International Conference of the International Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (ICAF) to be held at the Medical University of Vienna, 13th to 15th July, 2012


From prehistoric times human groups have exploited birds as a source of food.  This conference will provide an opportunity to consider the alimentary relationship between humans and birds from many perspectives and in a cross-disciplinary way, with special attention to health and cultural differences.

The forms this relationship takes are extremely varied across cultures, space and time because of the cultural diversity in the human responses to the necessity of eating and because of variation in bird species. Different bird species are naturally adapted to different environments in different parts of the world, but through human intervention some species have been taken to new environments, some have been transformed genetically, some have become extinct or their survival is threatened.  Furthermore, as well as diversity in species, the wide diversity in cultural choices means that some meats and eggs of some birds are considered as edible while others are considered inappropriate for eating.  There is also cultural diversity in the methods of hunting wild birds or gathering their eggs for food, whereas the co-evolution of domesticated birds and human groups has lead to genetic diversity within certain bird species (such as the chicken, Gallus gallus, the duck, Anas platyrhynchos, the goose, Anser anser, and the turkey, Meleagris gallopavo).

While the consumption of the meat and eggs of bird species clearly makes a nutritional contribution, which represents for many, especially in the less developed societies of the world, a very important source of valuable protein (providing essential amino acids) and fat. Yet, the precise composition of this depends on various factors including the species consumed and the proportions of fat in the meat, while the relative benefits to health depend on the general diet and condition of the consumers.  There are also quite different cultural beliefs on what birds and what parts of the birds are considered beneficial or harmful to health and wellbeing.  Such concepts in the modern world tend to be based on scientific criteria and the growing political movement for healthy human foods has included concern about the feeds that domesticated birds receive, the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, the transference of bacterial or viral infections, etc. The recent outbreak of avian influenza of the strain HPAI A(H5N1) drew attention to the close living conditions of humans and domesticated birds in some situations.  Thus, the circumstances in which poultry are raised in different societies are for a new reason worthy of ethnographic description and medical and ethnomedical research.

The cultural representations of birds as food are frequently complex constructions in which taxonomic considerations, magic, myth, visible form, perceived characteristics of the birds and other factors all interact.  What is more, such beliefs and representations of the birds are frequently considered to have effects on the consumers, which in turn affect what should be eaten or should be avoided by different individuals or in different circumstances; examples of such diversity in cultures and belief systems abound.  Such a complexity is not only present in ancient and traditional cultures, but persists in modern societies not only as regards health but also as regards status, value, festive foods, supermarket advertising, etc.

Conference venue:  The conference will be held in the Medical University of Vienna, hosted by the Unit Ethnomedicine and International Health, Center for Public Health.

Accommodation: The host organizers are looking into accommodation options, but there is currently no funding for accommodation of speakers.

Applications to contribute:

Considering the richness of the relationships between humans and the bird products they consume, we invite researchers interested in this topic (cultural, social and biological anthropologists, medical specialists, nutritionists, archaeologists, historians, agronomists, poultry producers, ornithologists, evolutionary biologists, economists, etc.) to participate in this conference.

  • Most sessions will be in English, but one session will be in Spanish. 
  • Oral presentations are currently expected to be of 20 minutes’ duration.  

Initial expressions of interest including a provisional title,  a brief summary of some 100-150 words and the name of the lead author, should be sent to Frederic Duhart at frederic.duhart[at]wanadoo[dot]fr as soon as possible and

before the deadline of 20th November, 2011.

Certain aspects of the conference will be developed on the basis of these initial expressions of interest.

Formal title of paper, full list of authors and an abstract of 150-250 words should be sent to Frederic Duhart by 15th December, 2011, and would of course be welcome immediately instead of the initial expression of interest.  

Scientific committee

All proposals will be evaluated by an international scientific committee coordinated by Dr. Wulf Schiefenhoevel, Dr Armin Prinz and Dr Ruth Kutalek. 


  • Vienne, France


  • Sunday, November 20, 2011


  • alimentation, oiseau, gibier, chasse, élevage, domestication, volaille, santé, risque, nutrition, diététique, cuisine, médecine


  • Frédéric Duhart
    courriel : frederic [dot] duhar [at] orange [dot] fr

Information source

  • Frédéric Duhart
    courriel : frederic [dot] duhar [at] orange [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Birds as Food: Cross Cultural and Health Perspectives », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, https://doi.org/10.58079/jcu

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