Human-dog interaction has been examined in various sociocultural contexts, but such relationships have not been well explored for contemporary subsistence practices in Neotropical areas. In this study, we document human-dog bonds in terms of their relevance for Maya peasant-hunters' life strategies in a rural community of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula. To better understand social perceptions of dogs, we gathered ethnographic data through semi-structured and in-depth interviews with Maya peasant-hunters and participant observation in a Maya community. We paid particular attention to the sociocultural dimensions of subsistence hunting, agriculture, and the everyday activities of peasant-hunters and their families. We found that most peasant-hunters recognized the versatility of dogs in hunting and as sentinels for agricultural and home-gardening practices. We also found that dogs transcend their utilitarian value by granting prestige to their owners through hunting and by protecting them from harmful non-human entities of Maya cosmovision. Based on our results, we propose the “hunter-milpa dog” as a category encompassing the unique bond forged between Maya peasant-hunters and their dogs. Our definition contributes to a more substantive understanding of these canines as social actors linked to the subsistence life strategies in rural settings of Mesoamerica.
|Publication Title||Journal of Ethnobiology|
|Author Address||Laboratorio de Ecologia y Conservacion de la Biodiversidad (LAECBIO), Departamento de Ecologia Humana. Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politecnico Nacional (CINVESTAV-IPN), Unidad Merida, Mexico.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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