Erica von Essen

Erica von Essen conducts research on human-wildlife relations at the Environmental Communication division of the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences. Together with a Ph.D. student, she researches the changing ethics of hunting in modernity. Erica’s work will identify critical junctures in the hunting culture where new developments and modernization processes impact traditional human-wildlife practices, resulting in new values and ways of relating to the game.

Working alongside hunting associations and wildlife management sectors, this research project concretely examines the implications on wildlife ethics of the new demographics entering the hunting community, as well as new invasive game species, technological innovations, commoditization of hunting, and the increased specialization of hunting communities’ practices. Wild boars, by way of constituting a ‘new’ huntable species, form a central case for exploring the manifestations of a changing wildlife ethic among hunters where cosmopolitan influences, technology, values and trends of hunting rapidly coalesce. For this reason, Erica works closely with the CEFRES Bewildering Boar research team.

Hunting ethics is a continuation of Erica’s doctoral work (defended in 2016), which looked at practices and drivers of illegal hunting – primarily of large carnivores – in Sweden and the Nordic countries. It revealed the importance of informal norms and ethics guiding hunters’ conduct and how these were changing. The research put Erica on the radar of media and sectoral interests looking into the conflicts following the Habitats Directive. She since regularly engages with hunting representatives, organizations, and practitioners at regional, national and international levels, where she speaks about the role of hunting in modern society and its relationship to wildlife as a public good. Within this, she has a number of TV, radio, popular newspaper and the European Parliament appearances.


2013-2016 PhD in Environmental Communication, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

2010-2012 Master of Science, in Sustainable Development, Uppsala University

2007-2010 B.soc. Geography, Cultural Anthropology 

Selected peer-reviewed publications

von Essen, E. Hansen, H.P. Peterson, M.N. Peterson, T.R. 2017. Discourses on Illegal Hunting in Sweden: The Meaning of Silence and Resistance. Environmental Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/23251042.2017.1408446

von Essen, E. (2017) The impact of modernization on hunting ethics: Emerging taboos among contemporary swedish hunters. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, pp. 1-18

von Essen, E. and M.P. Allen. 2017. Taking prejudice seriously: Burkean reflections on the rural past and present. Sociologia Ruralis,  10.1111/soru.12183

von Essen, E., M. Allen and H.P. Hansen (2017) Hunters, crown, nobles, and conservation elites: Class antagonism over the ownership of common fauna. International Journal of Cultural Property, 24(2) pp. 161-186

von Essen, E. Allen, A. 2017.”A Reluctant Right-Wing Social Movement: On the ‘Good Sense’ of Swedish Hunters?” Journal of Rural Studies. 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.01.007

von Essen, E., and Allen, M.P. 2017. “From Obstructionism to Communication: Local, National and Transnational Dimensions of Contestations on the Swedish Wolf Cull Controversy” Environmental Communication. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2016.1269821, pp. 1-13

von Essen, E. Allen, M. 2017. Solidarity Between Human and Non-Human Animals: Representing Animal Voices in Policy Deliberations.”Environmental Communication. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2016.1269820, pp. 1-13 

von Essen, E. and H.P. Hansen (2016) Sport hunting and food procurement ethics. Pp. 1-7 in P. B. Thompson and D. M. Kaplan eds.,Encyclopedia of food and agricultural ethics (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands)

von Essen, E. Allen, A. 2016. “The Implications of Victimhood Identity: The Case of ‘Persecution’ of Swedish Hunters.” International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, vol 6, no 2, p. 78-94 

von Essen, E. Allen, A. 2016. “Interspecies Violence and Crimes of Dissent: In what Sense are Wildlife the Victims of Message-Crimes?” Green Criminology Special Issue for Critical Criminology, 25 (2), pp. 261-274

von Essen, E. Allen, M. 2016. ”Wild-But-Not-Too-Wild Animals: Challenging Goldilocks Standards in Rewilding”. Between the Species,19(1) 80-108

von Essen, E., and Allen, M.P. 2016. “The Republican Zoopolis: Towards a New Legitimation Framework for Relational Animal Ethics.”Ethics and the Environment. 21 (1): 61-88 

von Essen, E., and Allen, M.P. 2016. “A Rabble in the Zoopolis? Considering Responsibilities for Wildlife Hybrids”. Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (2): 171-187

von Essen, E. 2015. “Whose discourse is it anyway? Understanding resistance through the rise of ‘barstool biology’ in nature conservation”. Journal of Environmental Communication. DOI:10.1080/17524032.2015.1042986

von Essen, E. Hansen, H.P. 2015. ”How stakeholder co-management reproduces conservation conflicts: revealing rationality problems in Swedish wolf conservation”. Conservation & Society. 13(4) p. 332-344

von Essen, E., and Allen, M.P. 2015. “Reconsidering Illegal Hunting as a Crime of Dissent: Implication for Justice and Deliberative Uptake. ” Criminal Law & Philosophy:1-16. doi: 10.1007/s11572-014-9364-8.

von Essen, E., Hansen, H.P., Nordström Källström, H., Peterson, M.N., and Peterson, T.R. 2014. “The radicalisation of rural resistance: How hunting counterpublics in the Nordic countries contribute to illegal hunting.” Journal of Rural Studies. no. 39, p. 199-209

von Essen, E., Hansen, H.P., Nordström Källström, H., Peterson, M.N., and Peterson, T.R. 2014. “Deconstructing the Poaching Phenomenon: A Review of Typologies for Understanding Illegal Hunting.” British Journal of Criminology no. 54 (4):632-651.