Hedgehogs, Killing, and Kindness: The Contradictions of Care in Conservation Practice

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


How our understanding of and relationship to hedgehogs reveals the complex interactions between culture, technology, bodies, conservation, and care for other animals.

Across the globe, the bumbling hedgehog has been framed in a variety of ways throughout history—as an animal of both good and bad luck, of transformation, of vengeance, and of wit and reincarnation. In recent years, it has also, in different parts of the world, been viewed as a pest for their predation on ground-nesting birds and has thus become a target for culling. In Hedgehogs, Killing, and Kindness, Laura McLauchlan explores how human actors have interacted with hedgehogs and other species through time and attends to the questions these interactions raise when it comes to ending and preserving life in the name of species conservation and wildlife rehabilitation.

Grounded in rich empirical material and careful critique, Hedgehogs, Killing, and Kindness traces the author’s own more-than-human transformative experience and elucidates how care is shaped by and shapes various cultural and material forces. McLauchlan urges us to rethink and reflect on how cares are normalized, and at what and whose expense; what it might mean to care in more responsive ways; and finally, whether it is possible to kill with kindness in this rapidly changing and conflicting world. A valuable addition to the understanding and practices of multispecies ethnography, environmental anthropology, and the broader environmental humanities, McLauchlan sheds a necessary light on the fraught space between caring for and killing to care for other-than-human animals on our one precious planet.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe MIT Press
Number of pages272
ISBN (Print)9780262548106
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 May 2024


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