NZCHAS - Human-Elephant Relations

Human-Elephant Relations

Dr Piers Locke conducts historical and ethnographic research on captive elephant management, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism, and human-elephant conflict, mainly in Nepal and Sri Lanka. He is currently writing a monograph about his fieldwork in the elephant stables of the Chitwan National Park, Nepal, where he apprenticed as an elephant handler. This work is concerned with challenging the humanist bias of ethnography, with the possibility of nonhuman personhood, and with presenting the elephant stable as an institutional space of interspecies cohabitation. It documents apprenticeship learning, intimate interspecies relations, and elephant training as a rite of passage for both humans and elephants (which also features in his documentary film Servants of Ganesh). It also explores the coextensive yet variably emphasized states of animality, personhood, and divinity that handlers attribute to their elephants, as well as the integral role elephants play in protected area management and local tourist economies.

Conflict, Negotiation, and Coexistence: Rethinking Human-Elephant Relations in South Asia

Edited by Dr Piers Locke (Department of Sociology and Anthropology) and Associate Professor Jane Buckingham (Department of History), this new book arises from an international symposium that took place at the University of Canterbury in 2013. It brings together anthropologists, biologists, ecologists, geographers, historians, political scientists, and Sanskrit literature specialists in order to explore humans, elephants, and environments in South Asia from the multispecies, interdisciplinary perspective of ethnoelephantology.... [read more]

Read Piers Locke's short article accompanying the book on the OUP blog here.