The Humanitarian Politics of Cecil the Lion

In case you missed it, in late July, Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, beheaded Cecil, a lion living in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Indeed, the poaching of Cecil the lion was unfortunate. But the righteous expressions of moral high ground that accompanied media discussions lay bare some key issues around representations of Africa that warrant further attention. Public shaming of Mr. Palmer focused on outrage over his sense of Western entitlement that led him to disregard Zimbabwean laws to kill “Africa's most beloved lion”. Ironically, these selective narratives play into the same power dynamics and sense of entitlement that they set out to critique.