The University of Arizona

Sympathy for Cecil: gender, trophy hunting, and the western environmental imaginary

Eric S Godoy


This article draws from political ecology and ecofeminism to examine sympathy, expressed by record-breaking donations from North Americans, for the death of Cecil the Lion. The overlapping normative critique offered by these two perspectives together demonstrates how sympathy is disclosive of power relations. Sympathy reveals, relies upon, and reinforces different forms of gender, racial, and neocolonial domination; especially when western sympathy remains ignorant of the power relations, including their politics and histories, that shape attitudes toward non-human animals and grant them status as members of the (western) moral community.

Keywords: sympathy, ecofeminism, trophy hunting, wildlife conservation, Cecil the Lion

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