Hunting landscapes: a situated multispecies approach to the past, present and future of hunting in the Netherlands

By Eugenie van Heijgen -
In Dutch society, hunting has become a disputed activity. Recurrent debates focus on the morality of killing animals, raising questions about the future place of hunting. Legitimations of hunting have broadened from ‘wildlife management’ towards narratives that emphasize hunting as the ultimate free-range meat production. This reveals how hunting is a dynamic practice, the meanings of which change in relation to shifting societal views on food, landscape, animals and nature. In these hunting practices, new human-nature relationships and social orders –including conceptions of human/-non-human, wild/-domesticated and nature/-culture–are constantly negotiated. Many of today’s nature areas –their physical lay-out and resident wildlife populations– find their origin in hunting. Thus, hunting shapes the environment by constituting 'hunting landscapes’.

This research uses hunting landscapes in the Netherlands to analyse the various meanings of hunting, the way these resonate with changing human nature relationships and social orders, and the landscapes in which they take place and which they help shape. Using an innovative combination of methods from history, cultural geography, discourse analysis and multi-species ethnography, the research offers new perspectives on the past, present and future of Dutch hunting landscapes.‚Äč