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Title: Elephant Keeping or Elephant Mistreating?: Power, Culture, and Subjectivity within Human-Elephant Relationships in Chiang Mai
Authors: Sheryl Lee Jia Rei
Keywords: human-animal relations, political ecology, elephant culture, elephant tourism, Thailand, Chiang Mai.
Issue Date: 2017
Citation: Sheryl Lee Jia Rei (2017). Elephant Keeping or Elephant Mistreating?: Power, Culture, and Subjectivity within Human-Elephant Relationships in Chiang Mai. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Within Thailand, an increasing number of elephant tours have been shifting from a largely anthropocentric model of valuing elephants solely based on their ability to fulfil human needs, to an eco-centric model that prioritises elephant welfare above human desires. This is spurred in part by the rising trend of global concern towards animal welfare, and the changing expectations of tourists. Yet, the remaining anthropocentric camps take issue with this shift in models, especially with regards to how the eco-centric model results in the loss of their ‘elephant culture’. This ultimately breeds dissent and conflict towards eco-centric parks. As this phenomenon is relatively new, there has not been any studies conducted on its implications on the welfare, livelihoods, and experiences of the stakeholders involved. Semi-structured interviews will be complemented with participant observation to identify and tease out the lived experiences and knowledges of those involved and/or implicated by the shift in models. This project aims to investigate human-animal relations within elephant tourism in Chiangmai, Thailand. It argues that changes in human-animal relationships have to be accompanied with the consideration of those left behind, in order to be truly sustainable. To this end, political ecology will be used to investigate possible conflicts and potential resolutions in attaining ecological welfare within a fundamentally commercialised nature-society relationship. In particular, imaginations and constructions of elephant welfare knowledges will be critically interrogated to elucidate the uneven power relations underlying the elephant businesses.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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