Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human and Mollusc Interactions: from Prehistory to Present

The International Workshop “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human and Mollusc Interactions: from Prehistory to Present” is organized by the French National Museum of Natural History [Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle] in partnership with the National Fisheries College of Papua New Guinea.

Principal Organizer
Ariadna Burgos (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle)

Philippe Bouchet (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle)
Jeff Kinch (National Fisheries College, Papua New Guinea)

Scientific domain
Shell deposits scattered along the coasts of the world testify to the selective use of molluscs by humans for at least 150,000 years. Molluscs are still a source of nutrient-rich food, raw material for tool-making and home building, and an object of worship carrying beliefs and symbolic values for many coastal and island societies.  Some species are now cultivated on a large scale for food, or are collected for the tourist industry or for private malacological collections. Molluscs are also important indicators for environmental health, but can also be deadly when they accumulate various pathogens and pollutants.

Interactions between humans and molluscs offer multiple areas of study and disciplinary approaches. Today, theoretical and methodological approaches for the study of human-mollusc interactions include archaeology, anthropology, fisheries, ecology and biology.  However, the nature of the relationship between humans and molluscs is increasingly becoming more challenging due to globalization, climate change, development of coasts and calls for further interdisciplinary coordination.

Objectives and expectations
The “Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Human and Mollusc Interactions: from Prehistory to Present” workshop has two objectives:

  • to provide a comparative analysis of the diversity of interactions between humans and molluscs, and their evolution in time and space; and
  • to provide a space to meet, exchange ideas and construct knowledge between researchers from various fields.

The workshop will therefore present different research methods and case studies dealing with:

  • the diversity, associations and life history of bivalves and gastropods;
  • the cultural and symbolic value of molluscs and shells;
  • the formation, nature and interpretation of contemporary and ancient shellfish deposits;
  • the uses, local knowledge, and strategies and dynamics of collection, production and management of shellfish; and
  • the health, ecological, socio-economic and political issues affecting shellfish resources and the societies that depend on them.


Thematic Sessions

Day 1
Introduction to human-mollusc interactions
Molluscs and human behaviour in ancient environments
Time and complexity in the ethnoarchaeological research

Day 2
Local knowledge, identity and shellfishing dynamics
Models and approaches for the sustainable management of shellfish resources
Human-mollusc interactions in a changing world

Program and registration
The workshop will take place over three days, from the 31st of January to the 2nd of February 2018 at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.  

The first two days will take place at the Jardin des Plantes in the auditorium of the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution (36 rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris) from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm and will take the form of a conference open to the general public.

The last day will be reserved for Workshop Invitees only and will take place in a workroom of the Musée de l’Homme. This day will be devoted to a discussion which aims to consolidate interdisciplinary collaborations and promote future activities.

There is no fee to attend the conference, but registration is required and will close on January 27th. Please complete the registration form here: Registration