The whale multiple: Spatial formations of whale tourism in Jangsaengpo, South Korea

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Whale-watching tourism is widely regarded as a manifestation of the transition from whale hunting to whale protection. However, in Jangsaengpo, South Korea, watching whales and eating whale-meat occur side by side for tourism purposes. Here, the concurrence of the two seemingly conflicting practices is legitimated through the by-catch which enables eating without killing by using “accidentally” caught whales for meat. Bringing together ontological discussions of multinaturalism and the topological analysis of space, this paper examines the ways in which spatial relations are performed to produce multiple whale ontologies within Jangsaengpo's whale tourism. It specifically unfolds diverse geographical connections (from Japan to the US), and their interactions, which enact whales in Jangsaengpo as a multiplicity – what I call “the whale multiple”. This paper first traces Jangsaengpo's historical and contemporary whale-related geographical connections through which an array of actors and entities are enrolled into, and transformed, within the assemblage of whale tourism. It then considers the spatial politics exercised through the by-catch, which configures a concurrence of conflicting whale ontologies. The paper discusses the political implications of the whale multiple which suggests strategic living with different ontological worlds as a way of moving beyond the killing–protecting antagonism. By illustrating the spatial production and configuration of ontological multiplicity, this paper engages with the spatial dimension of the multinatural theorisation of nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2536-2557
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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