Qualifying Exam Essay: Javelinas in SPAAAACE and Time

I have passed my qualifying exams and so am making my essays available on my blog.

The other essays can be found: Attending to Animals in Anthropology and Power and Politics Within and Beyond the Human.


How have different disciplines placed javelinas in cultural, ecological, historical, archaeological, and other frameworks within and beyond Texas?

·      What kinds of knowledge, research, and theory inform those placements? What is missing from them, if anything?

·      What would a uniquely anthropological approach to studying human-javelina relations in Texas look like, and why is one needed?

·      In your response, be sure to address both the disciplinary and broader academic and non-academic contributions of your proposed project.

Javelinas in SPAAAACE and Time

Javelina (Pecari tajacu), also known as collared peccary, is a species native to the Americas. My proposed project will investigate various iterations of human-javelina relations in Texas, United States. As such, it is crucial to attend to javelinas as agentive subjects in the relation. This approach engenders knowing javelinas as material beings with a history deeply entangled with other beings, including humans.

In this paper, I will discuss how various scholarly disciplines attend to javelinas. I will then situate my project within the current literature in which javelinas figure by highlighting specific contributions that an anthropological approach can make to understanding how javelinas fit into broader multispecies worlds and articulate with humans at sites of encounter in Texas, United States.

Knowing Javelinas through Biology

To engage with javelinas as participants in multispecies entanglements, I must develop an understanding of javelinas as material actors. Thus, their natural history, biology, ecology, and behavior are key sites of inquiry. Much of the scholarship published concerning javelinas views them through this lens. Research on their evolution, ecology, and physiology is readily available. However, in-depth studies of javelina behavior are lacking, with most of the research conducted with captive groups. In this section, I will survey literature covering the natural history, anatomy, ecology, and behavior of javelinas in order to elucidate how biologists produce knowledge about javelinas and how this literature informs my project.

The Natural History of Javelinas

Javelinas, also known as collared peccaries, are one of three extant species of peccaries that inhabit the Americas and belong to the Family: Tayassuidae. White-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari) range through much of Amazonian South America while extending north into southern Mexico (Sowls 1997). Chacoan peccaries (Catagonus wagneri) are confined to the Gran Chaco region of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia (Torres et al., 2017). Javelinas are sympatric with both white-lipped and Chacoan peccaries across their ranges but extend into the southwestern United States. In the United States, javelinas inhabit Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, with more than two-thirds of the javelinas in the United States found in Texas (Manaster 2006).

While the vast majority of extant peccaries inhabit South America, much of their evolutionary history occurred in Eastern Hemisphere and North America (Colbert 1955; Sowls 1997). Early ancestors of peccaries, who had evolved in the Eastern Hemisphere, migrated into the Western Hemisphere after diverging from Suina (pigs). The divergence of peccaries and pigs occurred less than 43.2 MYA (million years ago) (Ruvinsky and Rothschild 1998), with early North American peccary fossils dating to 36 MYA (Prothero 2009). Peccaries in the Eastern Hemisphere went extinct while taxa diversified in North America (Perry et al., 2017; Prothero 2009).

The formation of the isthmus of Panama around ~4 MYA, and thus the connection of North and South America, facilitated the movement of a significant number of taxa from each continent to the other, called the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI) (Woodburne 2010). As a part of the interchange, peccaries such as Platygonus sp. were distributed throughout the Americas and further diversified. Fossil evidence resulted in two competing hypotheses concerning the contemporary evolutionary relationships of extant peccaries. The first hypothesis holds that the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) migrated from North to South America and diversified into the taxa present today, with javelinas and white-lipped peccaries having the closest evolutionary relationship (Wetzel 1977). The second hypothesis located the site of diversification in North America, with each species independently migrating into South America (Wright 1989). In the case of the second hypothesis, collared and Chacoan peccaries would be most closely related. However, recent molecular analysis has challenged the second hypothesis.

Current genomic comparisons indicate that divergence occurred in South America after the interchange. Moreover, phylogenetic relationships have been further clarified, with white-lipped and Chacoan peccaries sharing the most genetic similarities, thus indicating a closer evolutionary relationship than either has to North and South American javelinas (Perry et al., 2017). A clearer account of evolutionary relations can help explicate how each species of peccary distributes across various. For instance, javelinas inhabit a wide range of habitats (e.g., rainforest, desert, chaparral) across the largest area, while the other two species—who seem to be more closely related phylogenetically—have a much more limited range. White-lipped peccaries mainly inhabit humid tropical forests, while Chacoan peccaries are confined to the arid Gran Chaco region of South America. Javelinas thrive in both kinds of environments.

While South American peccaries were diversifying, North American populations were declining. The genus Platygonus was widely distributed throughout the Americas but declined rapidly with climatic changes following the beginning of the current interglacial period 11-13 KYA (thousand years ago) (Perry et al., 2017; Wilson and Hill 2020). Population declines are associated with the reduction of arid and semi-arid environments that were common during the glacial maximum—to which Platygonus was likely adapted (Gasparini et al., 2010). As a result, peccaries became extinct in North America.

Archaeological data seem to indicate that the return of peccaries to the United States in the form of javelinas is a recent phenomenon (Sowls 1997). There is little evidence of javelinas at pre-contact Indigenous sites in the southwestern United States prior to the 18th century (Hester 1981; Ricklis 2010). While Platygonus sp. remainshave been recovered from archaeological sites throughout the Great Plains region of the United States in association with Clovis tradition projectile points (Wilson and Hill 2020), javelina remains in the United States dated to earlier than the 18th century are mainly confined to southern Texas (Solis 2020). However, there is some evidence of the presence of Pecari sp.—of the same genus as javelinas—in Florida in the late Pleistocene, indicating that javelinas may have extended into the southern United States in brief dispersals prior to more extensive northern migrations that came later (Hulbert et al., 2009).   

The study of javelina natural history—their evolution and distribution—allows for insight into one level of analysis that situates them both within their phylogenetic Family, Tayassuidae, and in time and space. Knowing javelinas at this level draws attention to their historically constituted relations with ecology, climate, and other beings that have shaped their development as a species over time within particular landscapes. The evolution of peccaries within North America, their South American colonization, North American extinction, and their subsequent return to the United States are important factors for understanding how javelinas articulate with contemporary ecological conditions at my research sites in Texas. Moreover, attending to javelina natural history provides insight into how they perceive and interact with the world around them, which is affected by their evolved biological characteristics.

Javelina Bodies

Focusing on javelina natural history elucidates their broad patterning as a species, both in terms of distribution and anatomy. As such, the ways that evolutionary forces have shaped javelina bodies have ramifications for how they articulate with the broader world. The natural history of javelinas is expressed in the distinct forms of individual bodies, through which javelinas interface with their surroundings.

Javelinas are highly social, medium-bodied artiodactyls—even-toed hoofed mammals—with a cartilaginous disklike snout reminiscent of their Afro-Eurasian pig relatives pointing to their distant shared evolutionary history (Sowls 1997). However, unlike pigs, javelinas lack a pronounced tail, have scent glands on their rumps, only three toes on their hind feet, and straight tusks. Javelinas typically stand less than two feet tall at the shoulder, tend to be a bit more than three feet long as adults and weigh 30-60 pounds. Javelinas are thus the smallest extant species of peccary. Furthermore, while sometimes confused for feral hogs, javelinas are substantially smaller; feral hogs can reach weights of over 400 pounds and be five feet long (Mapston 2007).

Javelinas have a pronounced sense of smell, which offsets their limited eyesight (Sowls 1997) and potentially unremarkable hearing (Neal 1959). Neal (1959) conducted sense experiments with javelinas in the field and found that they did not react to waving arms or handkerchiefs at 100 yards while mule deer drinking from the same watering hole reacted. Mule deer also had more pronounced reactions to twigs snapping, and rocks rubbed together than did the javelinas. Furthermore, javelinas lack a tapetum lucidum—the reflective layer found in the eyes of many animals that facilitate low-light vision—and so have even poorer night vision (Sowls 1997).

As such, javelinas privilege olfaction over other sensory modalities. This pattern is expressed in their bodies with the presence of scent glands on their backs which are used in social behavior to mark territory and one another (Sowls 1974). Javelinas, facing in opposite directions, rub against one another, thus distributing fluid from their scent glands. Neal (1959) hypothesizes that mutual grooming and scent marking contribute to group cohesiveness as group members can identify their particular odor. Olfaction is further used to locate feeding sites and determine the presence of predators.

Javelina Ecology

While it is important to know javelina bodies and their natural history, they must be further contextualized in particular ecological milieus. Human-javelina relations do not exist independent of particular spaces in particular times. The environments in which the relationship is realized shapes its constitution.  While closely associated with arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States, javelinas occupy a wide variety of environments. Their association with dry regions likely stems from the site bias, as the US Southwest has been most intensely studied (Sowls 1997). In the most northerly portion of their range, javelinas live in chaparrals, deserts, mesquite/pine/juniper forests, and urban landscapes. Many of these biomes have open areas with interspersed thickets. However, in the tropics, they also inhabit rain and cloud forests, and swamps (Sowls 1997).

The adaptability of javelinas allows them to spread into various ecosystems as they are tolerant of a range of climates and, with their complex stomach, can adopt many kinds of diets. In the Amazon basin, where the greatest number of javelinas live, they are predominantly herbivorous/frugivorous, while also taking animal matter opportunistically (Bodmer 1990). In the northern part of javelina’s range, they feed on a variety of succulents—especially prickly pear cactus; fruits—juniper, persimmon, and hackberry; and seeds—ebony and mesquite (Crosswhite 1984; Manaster 2006).

Javelinas in the northern part of their range have a close relationship with prickly pear cactus (Opuntia lindheimeri). Prickly pear is a staple food that javelinas eat year-round. Prickly pear pads, despite their spines, make up a large portion of their diet. Corn and Warrren (1985) found that pad consumption in south Texas peaks in the summer and declines slightly in favor of forbs such as pepperweed (Lipidium sp.) in the cooler months. While their diet remains varied throughout much of the year, javelinas shift to nearly exclusively feeding on prickly pear cactus when its fruit is available in the spring (Corn and Warren 1985).

Prickly pear is a cornerstone food for javelinas at sites across Texas due to its ubiquity in arid and semi-arid environments and year-round availability (Rakowitz 1997). Prickly pear is a hardy plant that survives in dry areas with poor soil that many other plants could not colonize. Javelinas thus can also inhabit areas with little water and few other reliable food sources. Javelinas also benefit the cactus as, during the fruiting season, javelinas can disperse seeds over their home territory, thus contributing to the propagation of the cactus (Gonazáles-Espinosa and Quintana-Ascencio 1986). Prickly pear can also propagate by fallen pads which are sometimes broken off during feeding (Rakowitz 1997). As such, javelinas are also an important species in prickly pear life histories.  

While prickly pear provides food, water, and cover for many animals, it is also viewed as a potential problem for ranchers (Lundgren et al., 1980; Rakowitz 1997). While prickly pear is used as a fallback food for livestock during periods of drought—especially in south Texas—ranchers on the Edwards Plateau view it as a nuisance and so actively remove prickly pear from their property as it is associated with livestock health problems (Hanselka and Paschal 1991; Lundgren et al., 1980). Javelina population sizes in Texas are positively correlated with the density of prickly pear within their range (Theimer and Bateman 1992), and thus the removal of prickly pear affects javelinas.

The Texas Hill Country, home to one of the javelina groups that I have been working with, also has a fraught relationship with Ashes juniper (henceforth juniper), also called mountain cedar. Juniper is native to the Edwards Plateau—with isolated populations farther north—and provides food and cover for javelinas in this region. At my field site in the Texas Hill Country, javelinas feed on fallen juniper berries and bed at the base of juniper trees. Nevertheless, many local people view juniper as an invasive menace that should be extirpated as it is accused of damaging soils and contributing to erosion, and affecting livestock grazing (Patoski 1997). This disdain was exacerbated by listing black-capped vireos and golden-cheeked warblers as endangered species—who require the juniper for nesting, thus controlling the clearing of the trees. Patoski (1997) reports the frustration that landowners feel at the government stepping in to dictate how they use their own land.

However, it is necessary to note that juniper’s spread was likely facilitated by human activity (Van Auken 2018). Juniper, prior to European settlers, was primarily found on rocky hillsides on the Edwards Plateau but, due to overgrazing and poor land management, moved into low-lying areas, creating juniper stands in areas previously suitable for livestock grazing, thus shading out grasses and changing soil composition.

These two examples of human-javelina-plant relations illustrate how participating actors shape biotic assemblages and thus the importance of attending to ecological relations. There is an abundance of research on Texas ecosystems, plant and wildlife ecology, and history. However, little has been done to engage these topics ethnographically. Ecological factors and the experience of the landscape by those who occupy it have clear implications for the development and maintenance of multispecies relations both directly and indirectly. Even in cases where javelinas and humans are not in direct contact, the ecological effects of their behavior—humans and javelinas—construct the conditions of encounter.  

Javelina Behavior   

While there is an abundance of research on javelina ecology, anatomy, and evolution, there are very few behavioral studies of javelinas or peccaries more generally. Most of the research that I surveyed on javelina behavior was published before 1990 or focuses on captive groups. While there is limited utility for the captive work in my project, older ethological work is highly relevant for understanding a range of behaviors and their scientific interpretations.

Sowls (1997; 1984) provides the most comprehensive account of peccaries, dedicating three chapters of Javelinas and Other Peccaries (1997) to javelina behavior. Javelinas are highly social animals that can form groups of more than fifty individuals. However, herds—also called squadrons—tend to be composed of fewer than 20 members (Sowls 1997). Given that javelinas form herds, much of javelina behavior relates to sociality to varying degrees.

Javelina groups tend to operate within a stable home range, demonstrating a preference for certain sites: core areas (Schweinsburg 1971). Territories vary significantly by size and seem to be affected by the degree of cover available and food distribution, with groups living in denser areas having smaller home ranges. Despite the stability of their territories, javelinas do little more than scent marking to “defend” their area. Territories of adjacent groups often overlap with neighboring squadrons, with little conflict occurring between groups. Sowls (1997) reports that fighting between groups is rare and that if there is any observable conflict, it is with brief chases that do not manifest further.

  Within groups, javelinas demonstrate a wide variety of social behavior. Javelinas, aside from the olfactory communication discussed above, engage with one another tactilely and auditorily. Touch is a vital part of javelina social interaction and frequently occurs (Byers and Bekoff 1981). When javelinas greet one another, they may touch their noses together, rub against each other, or nuzzle—described as “resting the snout on the head or neck of another” (Sowls 1997: 149). Social interactions such as grooming, scent rubbing, mounting, and resting in contact with other group members are common across a variety of circumstances.  

Javelinas also have a complex repertoire of vocalizations and other auditory communications that they use across a wide set of contexts. They use purrs, grunts, barks, squeals, tooth clicking, woofs, and growls to communicate their intentions. Sowls (1997) classifies vocalizations into two broad categories: “togetherness calls” and “aggressive and alarm calls” (161). Togetherness calls are only used for conspecifics and establish or maintain group cohesiveness. Barks and grunts are used to locate and reassemble separated group members, while purrs are used to close the distances between members. Growls and tooth clicking are used to communicate anxiety or threat. Aggressive and alarm calls are directed at both conspecifics and other animals, including humans.

Intergroup conflict occurs and is typically resolved through vocal or postural communication such as with grunts, yawns, or tooth clicking. However rare, fighting also occurs, although it is typically brief (Byers and Bekoff 1981). Two individuals face one another, mouths agape, and shake their heads back and forth with clicking their teeth and vocalizing in what I describe as a quick and sharp “wobble wobble.” Squabbles, in my experience, are brief, lasting less than two seconds. Once the squabble has resolved, members tend to return to their previous activity. I have only observed this in feeding contexts over piles of birdseed (defensible food sources) and not over corn that a deer feeder has distributed. Interestingly, I have not discovered any studies of conflict reconciliation among javelinas and have not observed any myself.

There is disagreement over the degree to which javelinas have social dominance hierarchies. There seem to be dominance patterns among captive groups when experimentally stimulated to compete over food or water (Sowls 1997). However, Byers (1980) was unable to demonstrate quantitatively that javelinas had stable hierarchies. Captive studies of dominance in javelinas do not indicate any sex or age-specific patterning to dominance within groups (Sowls (1997). Therefore, with my training in evaluating dominance behavior in other-than-human primates, I may contribute to the understanding of how javelinas constitute their group structure.

While much of the ethological work evaluating javelina behavior is dated, a recent study by de Kort et al. (2017) documented grieving behavior among a peccary group. This kind of behavior is not wholly uncommon among mammals as humans and other primates, elephants, and cetaceans have been recorded engaging in behavior interpreted mean that they are experiencing grief (King 2013). In this case study, javelinas continually visited the remains of their dead group member over the course of ten days. Members would nuzzle, try to lift, sleep with, smelling, scent-marking, and grooming each other around the remains (de Kort et al., 2017). Even after local people moved them, various group members visited the remains until coyotes consumed them. This example of social behavior in javelinas is salient for my research because it emphasizes the consequences of highly-developed social relations and javelinas’ cognitive and affective potential. Furthermore, javelina hunting is a considerable aspect of my project, and so this case study demonstrates the necessity for considering the trauma caused to javelinas by losing group members. Finally, in terms of people’s notions of javelinas, this kind of behavior tends to be endearing and thus may modify people’s perceptions of javelinas.

It is vitally important to have a firm grasp of javelina behavior in my project as I will be working directly with javelinas, observing human-javelina encounters, and interviewing human collaborators. Thus, I will need to understand how javelinas respond to humans—including me, how to respond to javelinas appropriately, and how human collaborators interpret javelina activity. Hartigan (2020) demonstrates how ethology can be used to attend to other-than-human animals ethnographically. Hartigan discusses the trauma that wild horses in Spain experience as a part of a local human ritual of enclosing and shaving the horses. To do so, Hartigan relies on “thin description” and “flat ontology” (9). These approaches, Hartigan argues, centers the other-than-human subjects while not reducing them to interpretive or symbolic objects. Ethologists have provided rigorous accounts of javelina behavioral patterns. However, this material has not been included in anthropological research that has included javelinas and other peccaries. Thus, incorporating Hartigan’s approach may serve as one tool to better explicate javelina social lives and draw it into my ethnographic lens.

Biologists attend to javelinas in a variety of ways that are relevant to my project. Their evolutionary history, anatomy, and behavior are all important factors in shaping the multispecies assemblages of which they are a part. Without attention to their unique history and biology, a rich account of javelinas’ roles in the various iterations of human-javelina relations would not be possible. Their perceptual modalities, shaped by their evolutionary history, relationship to broader ecological contexts, behavioral patterns, and adaptability are essential factors for understanding how javelinas articulate with their world. Furthermore, this approach holds javelinas as material agents that shape their milieu and thus the conditions of the multispecies relations in which they participate.

Knowing Javelinas Culturally

While research is abundant with javelinas in biological sciences, there is a dearth of ethnographic attention paid to javelinas. A survey of Anthrosource—a database for the family of journals managed by the American Anthropology Association—has no publications that attend directly to javelinas. Instead, javelinas and other peccaries are ancillary characters in anthropological research, even in cases where they are highly culturally relevant. Their inclusion in anthropological research is evident, especially in Amazonian ethnographies, where peccaries serve as both important game animals and symbolically powerful beings. However, the white-lipped peccary is more salient in the research as they tend to be privileged over javelinas despite overlapping across the entirety of the white-lipped peccary’s range.

Peccaries are nearly ubiquitous in ethnographic research with Indigenous Amazonian peoples because of their relevance as game animals and, especially in the case of white-lipped peccaries, powerful symbolic beings. This dynamic is exemplified by Conklin’s (2001) account of the historical Wari’ mortuary practice of roasting and consuming the fetid remains of affines, in part so that they can return to the land of the living as white-lipped peccaries to offer themselves to their family as food. The transformation of humans into peccaries is also framed in regard to moral failures. By adopting the habits of other beings—such as eating or acting like another animal—humans run the risk of transforming into other beings (Fausto 2007; Velásquez Runk, Ismare, and Conquista 2019).  

Cepek (2018; 2016; 2012) discusses the relevance of peccaries for the Cofán, who hunt both white-lipped and collared peccaries. The Cofán have prohibitions around eating white-lipped peccaries at particular times because their blood can be polluting (Cepek 2016). Furthermore, in the community of Zábalo, only two white-lipped peccaries can be killed per household within a certain period of time (Cepek 2012). However, the same rules are not applied to javelinas. Cepek also reports that powerful hunters have the ability to call peccaries. For instance, Yori’ye, a powerful shaman, had the ability to compel the vajo—the masters of the white-lipped peccaries—to release them into the world. Yori’ye could then direct hunters to where groups of peccaries could be found.

The ubiquity of peccaries in Amazonian ethnographies is not carried into North America. This lack of appearance may be due to the lack of long-term intimate relations between North American Indigenous people and javelinas due to their relatively recent return to the region. However, it is worth noting that butchered javelina remains have been found at archaeological sites in South Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona (Hester 1981; Newcomb 2010; Waguespack and Surovell 2003).

Despite little anthropological attention to javelinas outside of Amazonia, Sowls (1997) and Manaster (2006) provide brief accounts of the cultural relevance of javelinas in the United States. Historically, while not targeted for their meat, javelinas were commodified for their hides and fur in the production of brushes and gloves from 1886 until 1939, when they were designated as a game species in Texas (Davis 1974; Taylor and Davis 1947). Reports of more than 30,000 hides were collected in one season from the area surrounding Bexar County, Texas, with javelina hides being used as currency in some areas in the late nineteenth century (Allen 1896).

The targeting of javelinas by the commodity market led to sharp declines in their populations in the US southwest (Sowls 1997). However, after the designation of javelinas as a game species in 1939, they began to move back into areas from which they had been extirpated. Still, local sentiments towards javelinas are mixed. For ranchers, they are sometimes viewed as nuisances because they allegedly kill livestock like sheep and goats. However, a new commodity market has risen in the wake of their classification as game animals. Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico sell hunting licenses for javelina hunting which generates tens of thousands of dollars a year in revenue for each state.

Moreover, with bag limits (2 per licensing year in Texas), a hunting industry has arisen in response to the presence of javelinas. Consequently, hunting guides and ranchers are motivated to protect the species as a commercial benefit to them. A quick Google search reveals dozens of hunting services that provide guided hunting trips for javelinas. These trips are often marketed year-round as there is no specified hunting season for javelinas except in northern Texas, where they are comparably rare.

While javelinas are framed in one regard as providing economic benefits, national and state parks in regions where javelinas are present often advertise the likelihood of encountering some while visiting the parks. For instance, at the website for Big Bend National Park, Texas—one of my potential fieldsites—javelinas are pictured on the front page for the link to “Nature.” Furthermore, throughout the website, javelina pictures are found alongside those of charismatic species such as bobcats and black bears, indicating a privileged representation.

Javelinas have also been adopted as the mascot for Texas A&M Kingsville (TAMUK)—the only university in the United States to have done so. The university includes a page on their website explaining what javelinas are alongside the institution’s history (https://www.tamuk.edu/about/what-is-a-javelina.html). However, it is worth noting that the mascot has upper canines that curve upward like feral hogs and not straight, downward-facing canines indicative of javelinas.  

While anthropology has been relatively silent on javelinas, they can serve as generative interlocutors for understanding multispecies and environmental relations in Texas. Little is known of javelinas in the United States ethnographically despite being common throughout much of the southwest. The presence of feral hogs also creates an opportunity for exploring how ambiguity affects the perception and representation of javelinas. There is a marked lack of asymmetry in knowing javelinas, with a strong bias towards knowing them through a biological/ecological lens. Anthropology can bridge the gap between this approach and ethnographic ways of knowing.

Knowing Javelinas Through Anthropology

I have discussed ways in which scholars have attended to javelinas across many disciplines. Biologists situate javelinas within ecology and evolutionary history; ethnographers and archaeologists locate javelinas within human lives by tying them into practice and culture. While the anthropological research discussed above locates javelinas within human culture, anthropology is not limited to anthropocentric conceptualizations of other beings.

Tsing (2015) provides an example of how one species of other-than-human being can be attended to as material agents in forming multispecies relations without reducing them to cultural objects. Tsing emphasizes the ways that matsutake mushroom physiology, ecological relations, and cultural relevance shape human activity, economics, and landscapes. Thus, matsutake is not conceived of as a mere object but a co-producer of multispecies worlds. Approaching javelinas with the same mindset—as active participants in multispecies relations—will elucidate the dynamics at play that shape encounters. Emphasizing encounters as the starting point for investigating human-animal relations helps ground the structural and theoretical engagement with the topic. Anthropology is a holistic discipline that can serve as an effective tool for bringing together insights from biology and ecology with those from ethnographic work, treating javelinas as ethnographic subjects. As such, the discipline is uniquely positioned to attend to more-than-human assemblages to which humans belong and draw humans into javelina worlds.

As ethnographic subjects, I will need to understand human-javelina relations from the perspectives of each participant. For javelinas, this will require understanding the sensory modalities through which javelinas perceive the world, how they communicate their intentions to both conspecifics and other beings that they encounter. Finally, javelinas can make substantial theoretical contributions to anthropology as their multisitedness highlights ways in which humans are drawn into and resist relations with other kinds of beings.

Alongside the academic contributions that my project will make, I hope to also contribute to Texans’ understanding of the multispecies worlds to which they belong. Doing so can contribute to policy decisions for land management and hunting regulations. Furthermore, the project can contribute to how private landowners act towards the other-than-human beings that share the space. The Texas Land Conservancy (www. texaslandconservancy.org) reports that nearly ninety-five percent of Texas lands are privately owned. As such, providing landowners tools for making informed decisions about land stewardship can greatly contribute to the protection of vital habitats for many species native to the state.

Moreover, javelinas share the land with humans as well as other lively interlopers that pose ecological, social, and conceptual threats to javelina lifeways. For instance, the management of feral hog populations throughout Texas is essential for protecting habitat, reducing feeding and spatial competition with javelinas and other animals, and protecting human economic interests. The introduction of feral hogs is a human-caused problem with cascading generational consequences and determining effective and ethical means for reducing hog populations. As such, this study may provide policy-makers and landowners better conceptual tools for assessing and addressing the issue.

Knowing javelinas through many lenses and integrating this knowledge draws them out of the landscape as dynamic agents in broader dynamic assemblages. Doing so is necessary to avoid viewing them in purely biologically mechanistic terms or as canvases on which humans can convey meaning. A broadly holistic accounting of the beings that we share the world with can help us find ways to live more convivially and accommodate the lifeways of others. Javelinas are entangled with humans in many ways, from moments of encounter, to neighbors in multispecies communities, to recipients of colonial practice with the hide trade and introduction of feral hogs. As such, javelinas are excellent collaborators for exploring environmental, cultural, and historical relations.     


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