More Than Murder: Ethics and Hunting in New Zealand

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Kass GibsonUniversity of St. Mark & St. John

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In this article I examine the practice of hunting in New Zealand with particular reference to the ways in which hunters make sense of hunting, the embodied experience of hunting, and the moral status of animals. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data I reflect on how the practice and understanding of hunting is guided by a form of relational ethics. As such, the social and historical development of hunting in New Zealand and meaningful connections made with the environment and animals developed through the practice of hunting work to guide hunter’s ethical perspectives rather than any universalized philosophical principles or rules. I argue that by hunting, hunters recognize and consciously engage with multiple standpoints and interests in the backcountry environment in a manner that presents particular challenges to critical studies of human-animal interactions that are frequently unable to look past hunting as killing. As such, this article works to explicate the “experiential and cultural complexities” (Marvin, 2011 p.123) of hunting with particular emphasis on the development of an ethical perspective that guides hunters in New Zealand without seeking to judge, or defend, hunting and hunters.

Gibson is with the Coach and Physical Education Dept., University of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Kass Gibson at Kass Gibson
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