This new article suggests an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of human-elephant relations is emerging. It seeks to define the field of Ethnoelephantology in terms of the social and cognitive similarities between humans and elephants, the myriad ways in which human and elephant lives and landscapes are intertwined, and the combination of methodological perspectives from the social and the natural sciences. It explores conflict and coexistence in human-elephant relations through issues of captive elephant management, wild elephant conservation, and human-elephant conflict, reviewing cutting-edge research emerging from anthropology, geography, and history.
Locke, P. 2013. ‘Explorations in Ethnoelephantology: Social, Historical, and Ecological Intersections between Asian Elephants and Humans’ . Environment and Society: Advances in Research. 4, 79-97.
Humans and elephants have lived together and shared space together in diverse ways for millennia. The intersections between these thinking and feeling species have been differently explored, for different reasons, by disciplines across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Such disciplinary divisions, predicated on oppositions of human-animal and nature-culture, are integral to the configuration of modernist thought. However, posthumanist and biocultural thinking questions the underlying epistemological conventions, thereby opening up interdisciplinary possibilities for human-animal studies. In relation to issues of conflict and coexistence, this article charts the emergence of an interdisciplinary research program and discursive space for human-elephant intersections under the rubric of ethnoelephantology. Recognizing continuities between the sentient and affective lifeworlds of humans and elephants, the mutual entanglements of their social, historical, and ecological relations, and the relevance of combining social and natural science methodologies, the article surveys recent research from anthropology, history, and geography that exemplifies this new approach.
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