Testing the limits of the politics of recognition: Fox hunters in the United Kingdom

DOI10.1177/0192512117696417
Publication Date01 September 2018
AuthorKatherine Curchin
SubjectArticles
https://doi.org/10.1177/0192512117696417
International Political Science Review
2018, Vol. 39(4) 503 –514
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/0192512117696417
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Testing the limits of the politics
of recognition: Fox hunters in
the United Kingdom
Katherine Curchin
Australian National University, Australia
Abstract
Research into the rights of minority groups to preserve their culture and identity has tended to focus
on claims for cultural recognition made by indigenous peoples or other socio-economically disadvantaged
groups. By contrast, this article examines the political appeals to culture and identity made by campaigners
in the United Kingdom seeking to defend the sport of hunting with hounds in the lead up to the creation of
the Hunting Act (2004). Opponents of the hunting ban consciously echoed arguments about cultural survival
and cultural diversity made by indigenous hunters with the goal of fighting animal welfare legislation. These
cultural arguments had little persuasive force when deployed by this relatively powerful and affluent group. I
argue that the moral force of appeals to culture derive not from a vital human need for cultural recognition
but from the imperative of redressing longstanding patterns of social, economic and political disadvantage.
Keywords
Fox hunting, hunting with hounds, culture, recognition, Hunting Act (2004)
Introduction
Research into the rights of minority groups to preserve their culture and identity has tended to
focus on claims for cultural recognition made by indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees or other
socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Comparatively little attention has been given to claims
made by minority groups which are not economically or politically marginalised for recognition of
practices important to their cultural identity. This article analyses the deployment of the language
of culture by a relatively powerful and affluent group: supporters of fox hunting in the United
Kingdom. It focuses particularly on the unsuccessful campaign led by the Countryside Alliance to
defend the sport of hunting with hounds in the lead up to the creation of the Hunting Act 2004. This
case offers an opportunity to examine the normative weight we give cultural claims in our political
Corresponding author:
Katherine Curchin, National University, Copland Building #24, College of Arts & Social Sciences, Australian Acton ACT
2601, Australia.
Email: Katherine.curchin@anu.edu.au
696417IPS0010.1177/0192512117696417International Political Science ReviewCurchin
research-article2017
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