Hübschle, Annette (2017) Contested illegality: Processing the trade prohibition of rhino horn. In: The Architecture of Illegal Markets, J. Beckert and M. Dewey (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This chapter shows that the illegalization of an economic exchange is not a straightforward political decision with fixed goalposts, but a protracted process that may encounter unexpected hurdles along the way to effective implementation and enforcement. While political considerations informed the decision to ban trade in rhino horn initially, diffusion of the prohibition has been uneven and lacks social and cultural legitimacy among key actors along the supply chain. Moreover, some market actors justify their participation in illegal rhino horn markets based on the perceived illegitimacy of the rhino horn prohibition. The concept of “contested illegality” captures an important legitimization device of market participants who do not accept the trade ban.