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On May 7 & 8, at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, an international group of researchers from across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences met to present papers and discuss a variety of connected issues in human-elephant relations. The event featured anthropologists, ecologists, geographers, historians, political scientists, Sanskritists, zoologists, and zoo elephant experts from Australia, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, UK, and USA.
The symposium was concerned with ways of theorizing the human-elephant nexus, with human-elephant histories, with ethnographies of captive elephant management, with elephant welfare, and with conflict and coexistence in elephant conservation. The New Zealand news media were somewhat curious as to why such an event should be occurring in the Land of the Long White Cloud, but the charismatic qualities of a species so very entangled with human activity ensured a healthy interest from the public. The New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC) and the School of Social and Political Sciences (SAPS) were honoured to host such a dynamic mix of senior, world-class and junior, up-and-coming researchers. The event proved to be intimate and congenial, with compelling presentations and vibrant discussion. As such an unusually interdisciplinary meeting, participants remarked upon the refreshing opportunity to learn from colleagues with differing disciplinary expertise. New academic friendships were made, the prospect of new collaborations forged, and plans to publish the papers agreed upon. One participant even asked when and where the next version of this event would occur!
A full conference report will be posted on this blog soon. See the Symposium Programme with abstracts
University of Canterbury Media Releases