The Implications of Victimhood Identity: The Case of ‘Persecution’ of Swedish Hunters
This ethnographically based study examines Swedish hunters’ claims to victimhood through appeal to the term ‘persecution’. Perceiving disenfranchisement, injustice and discrimination on the basis of wolf conservation policy, we present hunters’ self-styled predicament as victimhood-claimants of persecution at the hands of a state that has been co-opted by a conservationist, pro-wolf agenda that systematically disenfranchises rural and hunting interests and lifestyles. Through the phenomenological accounts of hunter respondents, our paper takes seriously the hunters’ perception of persecution and, likewise, considers the opposite case made by conservationists: that wolves have been, and continue to be, the real victims of persecution in the conflict. Nonetheless, we show that the persecution language as it is applied from opposing parties in the conflict is problematic inasmuch as it is focused around creating a moral panic and confusion among the Swedish public who are ultimately responsible, as a democratic body-politic, for assessing the legitimacy of claims to moral wrong-doing and legal redress for the wronged. Our case study joins scholarship that explores the pathologies of claims to victimization
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