Love-iathan, the meat-whale and hidden people: ordering Faroese pilot whaling

Benedict E. Singleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


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 prowhaling 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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-48
JournalJournal of Political Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Faroe Islands
  • whaling
  • political ontology
  • cosmopolitics


Dive into the research topics of 'Love-iathan, the meat-whale and hidden people: ordering Faroese pilot whaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this