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Email: hugosson at


Office: Alumni Hall 410A

Email: hugosson at

Research Interests

(critical) animal studies; multispecies ethnography; conservation; ecotourism; ecofeminism; Ukraine


PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MS Anthrozoology, Canisius College, 2019
BA Hispanic Linguistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012

Research Summary 

I see my work as contributing to investigating how species live (and die) on a damaged planet. My dissertation project will be a multispecies ethnography in the Carpathian Mountain region of western Ukraine, focusing on the human and nonhuman animal lives shaped by these forests and their loss to the timber industry. These forests serve as both habitat and ecological corridors for many terrestrial mammals, including large carnivores such as bears, lynx, and wolves. While clearly there are interests invested in the export of wood, these conflict with other human interests: not only conservation but, for some, the potential for developing the area for ecotourism. Moreover, the stripping of trees from mountain slopes recently led to unprecedented flooding, providing more reason for some to oppose further deforestation. Who supports wildlife conservation and why? What species do they consider worthy of protection, and why? How do those advocating an ecotourism industry understand its benefits and risks?

My master’s thesis, “The Anthropomorphized Hyena in Media and the Implications for Conservation Strategy,” was an intersectional discourse analysis which explored connections between language, gender, race, and sexuality to examine how hyenas are vilified in popular culture and ultimately rendered “killable.” I have also written on animal ethics, including a forthcoming publication in The Journal of Animal Ethics theorizing “care” in Harry Potter, and an upcoming conference presentation problematizing the usage of snakes’ bodies in fashion and entertainment.

Publications and Select Manuscripts in Submission

2021 “The ‘Unnatural,’ ‘Immoral’ Hyena and the Implications for Conservation Strategy.” In Gender and Sexuality in Critical Animal Studies, edited by Amber E. George. Critical Animal Studies and Theory. Lanham: Lexington Books.

In press “Care” of Magical Creatures? A moral critique of the animal lover trope in Harry Potter. The Journal of Animal Ethics.

Under review “The spotted hyena in popular media and the biopolitical implications for conservation strategy.” Animal Studies Journal.

Conference Presentations

2021 Riot dogs as revolutionary symbols—to what extent are their stories informed by gendered expectations? Will be presented at the “International Society for Anthrozoology Conference.” June 22-24, Virtual.

2021 The ethical ramifications of snake accessorization: confronting the usage of snakes and their skins in fashion. Will be presented at “Animal Futures: Animal Rights in activism and academia.” May 8-9, Virtual.

2020 Tracing disgust for hyenas to conflations of gender, sex, and immorality. Accepted for presentation at “Tracing Disgust International Seminar.” March 18-20, Jyväskylä, Finland. (Conference was canceled due to COVID-19).

2019 Secretarybird Symbolism in South Africa: Connecting Indigeneity, Identity Politics, Linguistic Imperialism, and Contemporary Concerns About Conservation. Presented at “Decolonizing Animals: Australasian Animal Studies Association Conference.” July 1-4, Christchurch, New Zealand.

2019 The Feminization of Pit Bull Advocacy in the United States. Presented at “Animal/Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference.” March 21-23, Lubbock, TX, USA.