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Unveiling the Whale: Discourses on Whales and Whaling

Series: Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology Volume: 12

By: Arne Kalland

253 pages, Figs

Berghahn Books Ltd

Hardback | Nov 2009 | #180019 | ISBN-13: 9781845455811
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £59.99 $79/€67 approx

About this book

Whaling has become one of the most controversial environmental issues. It is not that all whale species are at the brink of extinction, but that whales have become important symbols to both pro- and anti-whaling factions and can easily be appropriated as the common heritage of mankind.

This book, the first of its kind, is therefore not about whales and whaling per se but about how people communicate about whales and whaling. It contributes to a better understanding and discussion of controversial environmental issues: Why and how are issues selected? How is knowledge on these issues produced and distributed by organizations and activists? And why do affluent countries like Japan and Norway still support whaling, which is of insignificant economic importance? Basing his analysis on fieldwork in Japan and Norway and at the International Whaling Commission, the author argues how an image of a "superwhale" has been constructed and how this image has replaced meat and oil as the important whale commodity.

He concludes that the whaling issue provides an arena where NGOs and authorities on each side can unite, swapping political legitimacy and building personal relations that can be useful on issues where relations are less harmonious.

&i;",,,a unique work. Surprisingly, perhaps, given the prominence of its subject, there is nothing comparable in the literature. It draws on the author's decades-long devotion to the topic. As a result, it is rich in its command of the academic, policy, and popular literatures on the subject. It is, simply put, authoritative. It is also convincing."&o;
- Michael Dove, Yale University

&i;"a thorough and very interesting analysis of the whaling controversy."&o;
- Kay Milton, Queen's University Belfast


List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
1 The Creation of a `Superwhale'
2 The Whale Protectionists
3 Diverting the Commodity Path
4 The International Whaling Commission (IWC)
5 Whaling and Identity
6 Local Responses to Global Issues
7 Conclusion

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Arne Kalland is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. He has written extensively on marine resource management and people's perceptions of nature. Recently he has addressed the relationship between religion and ecology. He has edited several books on human-nature relations and done fieldwork in Japan, Norway and Thailand.

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