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Love-iathan, the meat-whale and hidden people: ordering Faroese pilot whaling
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1038-2412
2016 (English)In: Journal of political ecology, ISSN 1073-0451, E-ISSN 1073-0451, Vol. 23, 26-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A key question in any environmental dispute is the nature of what is under discussion. 'Cosmopolitics' – political battles over the form of reality – are a feature of many environmental clashes. This article focuses on one such clash: during the summer of 2014, grindadráp – the iconic practice of driving pilot whales for meat – was the big news item in the Faroe Islands. More accurately, a conservation campaign by the controversial group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), Operation Grindstop 2014, garnered most attention. Aiming to stop or at least disrupt the 'barbaric' and 'sadistic' grindadráp, SSCS were involved in several confrontations with Faroese authorities and publicly engaged with Faroese pro-whaling advocates in several discussions that were seemingly fruitless. Based on 3 months fieldwork during the campaign, this article describes a 'political ontology' of Grindstop 2014. What emerged was a 'hybrid' born of a clash between two fundamentally dissonant systems of ordering, which structured and were reinforced by various practices, both discursive and material. Activists on both sides were engaged in a cosmopolitical struggle to decisively enact their orderings, creating alternative stories of whales, Faroese whaling, the ocean environment and modernity. The aim is to understand what happened when these orderings met. This article argues that throughout the summer these two orderings moved apart, consequently hiding the diversity of opinion and discussion within Faroese society around grindadráp. As such, alternative orderings of grindadráp were suppressed, notably those voiced by Faroese activists arguing that the practice should cease because of the high levels of toxins in pilot whale meat.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Tucson, USA: University of Arizona Libraries , 2016. Vol. 23, 26-48 p.
Keyword [en]
Faroe Islands, whaling, political ontology, cosmopolitics
Keyword [fr]
Îles Féroé, chasse à la baleine, l'ontologie politique, cosmopolitique
Keyword [es]
Islas Feroe, caza de ballenas, ontología política, cosmopolítica
National Category
Social Anthropology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-49328ISI: 000381699200006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-49328DiVA: diva2:911586
Available from: 2016-03-14 Created: 2016-03-14 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. From the sea to the land beyond: exploring plural perspectives on whaling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From the sea to the land beyond: exploring plural perspectives on whaling
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A perennial challenge in efforts to deal with environmental issues is the question of how to simplify. As such, where and when one simplifies is often a source of conflict, but perversely also paramount to finding a solution. This thesis focuses on one long-standing environmental issue, the whaling debate. Specifically, it performs a strategically sited microethnography of Faroese whaling, grindadráp, exploring linkages between actions on local and international scales. This thesis aims to contribute to environmental sociological efforts to analyse and resolve complex socio-environmental problems.

The five papers that together constitute this thesis collectively provide a description of grindadráp from the local scale of the bays where pilot whales are killed to the international forums where whaling as a whole remains an issue at the heart of an on-going, deadlocked conflict. Primarily based on three months’ fieldwork in the Faroe Islands, this thesis combines observation, interviews, media and other literature. The theoretical lenses employed are that of the ‘ontological turn’ and the ‘theory of sociocultural viability’ (cultural theory). The former utilised as a tool for ethnographic practice with the latter used to analyse how different perspectives on reality manifest throughout the whaling conflict.

This thesis demonstrates that grindadráp has changed through time as a result of the interactions between actors with different views on the matter at hand. However, in contrast to the global whaling debate, this interaction has been mostly constructive, with appropriate changes in practice ensuring grindadráp’s continued popularity within the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, its continuation will likely depend on grindadráp’s continued ability to balance different perspectives. This thesis thus echoes environmental sociological calls for improved dialogue in the framing and resolution of environmental disputes, suggesting that cultural theory provides a tool that balances relativism and pragmatism in dealing with complex environmental problems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university, 2016. 119 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Sociology, ISSN 1650-2531 ; 21
Keyword
whaling, Faroe Islands, ontological turn, cultural theory, the commons, political ecology, environmental conflict, environmental policy, conservation
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-52869 (URN)978-91-7529-166-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-12-09, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-10-10 Created: 2016-10-10 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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