Outsmarting Technology: Elephants as Non-Human-Actors in Wildlife Conflicts

New blog post by Ursula Münster of The Rachel Carson Center on her research in and around the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, on the topic of elephant agency and wildlife conflict.

mahout-with-his-orphaned-elephant

Ursula Münster’s article on Seeing The Woods- A Blog by the Rachel Carson Center

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Explorations in Ethnoelephantology

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Now published: Explorations in Ethnoelephantology: Social, Historical, and Ecological Intersections Between Asian Elephants and Humans

Excerpt from the introduction to this special issue of Environment and Society: Advances in Research, which is concerned with the theme of human-animal relations: “Piers Locke channels posthumanist and biocultural perspectives in his introduction of the particular interspecies discursive space he calls “ethnoelephantology”. Embracing principles of history, ethnography, and ecology, Locke moves across disciplines and beyond restrictive materialities to set a productive course for human-elephant studies. As elephants and their human counterparts are increasingly caught up in resource conflicts, this marks one set of opportunities for conservationists to weigh their methods of animal protection, stewardship, and management against multispecies ideas of coexistence” (Feinberg, Nason, and Sridharan 2013:3).

Migration to and from India: a historical vignette

Professor Partha Ghosh, who recently visited our Centre, and delivered the keynote address at our annual symposium, sent me an article that he recently wrote. The article is a review on migration to and from India titled, “To and Fro India, With Love”. Here’s the link:
http://myopenarchive.org/docs/arinbasu/351

It’s a fascinating account (review) of patterns of cross national movements of people, and has a broad sweep of some of the issues people are grappling with. The article is published in the India International Center Quarterly in the current issue.

Would be great to have your ideas and reflections.

Schedule of the Third Annual Symposium, NZSAC, UC, 14th September 2012

NZSAC Symposium 2012: Culture, Identity, and Environment

Venue: MacMillan Brown Centre, University of Canterbury Time: 14th September 2012, 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Opening Session:

  1. Formal Welcome (9:30–9:45)
  2. Director’s Report (9:45–10:00)
  3. Book Launch (First NZSAC Publication: “Managing Responsibly”)

Tea Break (10:00–10:30 AM)

Session One (10:30–11:30)

10:30–11:30 AM: Keynote Address by Professor Partha Ghosh, JNU, ICCR Chair on India.

Title of Presentation:

“Migrants of South Asia: Within and Beyond”

Session Two (11:30–12:30) – Human Environmental Relations in South Asia

A. Piers Locke (“ Cultural Conceptions of Elephants in The Chitwan National Park “)

B. Arindam Basu (“Environment and Climate Change in South Asia – Elephant in the Room”)

Lunch (12:30–1:30)

Session Three (2:30–3:30) – Culture, Identity and Diaspora

Elaine Dobson (“The Lepchas: Their Natural World, Their Music.”)

Jane Buckingham (“Disability and Fijian Indian community in South Pacific”)

Kathleen Harrington-Watt (“Historical Photography, Identity of Diaspora from Mauritius”)

Afternoon Tea Break (3:30 – 3:45)

Session Four (3:45–4:45) – Open

This is going to be a one hour session with presentations. We have space for two presentations half an hour each or three presentations 20 minutes each. Each presentation will be about 25 minutes with five minutes for questions and answers. The theme of the session will be determined once we have the presentation outlines.

Valedictory Session and Closure (4:45–5:00)

Schedule: NZSAC Third Annual Symposium

NZSAC Symposium 2012: Culture, Identity, and Environment

Venue: MacMillan Brown Centre, University of Canterbury Time: 14th September 2012, 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Opening Session:

  1. Formal Welcome (9:30–9:45)
  2. Director’s Report (9:45–10:00)
  3. Book Launch (First NZSAC Publication: “Managing Responsibly”)

Tea Break (10:00–10:30 AM)

Session One (10:30–11:30)

This will be a one hour session with presentations. We have space for two presentations half an hour each or three presentations 20 minutes each. Each presentation will be about 25 minutes with five minutes for questions and answers. The theme of the session will be determined once we have the presentation outlines.

Session Two (11:30–12:30) – Human Environmental Relations in South Asia

A. Piers Locke (“ Cultural Conceptions of Elephants in The Chitwan National Park “) B. Arindam Basu (“Environment and Climate Change in South Asia – Elephant in the Room”)

Lunch (12:30–1:30)

Keynote Address (1:30–2:30: Professor Partha S. Ghosh, JNU, ICCR Chair on India, India)

“Migrants of South Asia: Within and Beyond”

Session Three (2:30–3:30) – Culture, Identity and Diaspora

Jane Buckingham (“Disability and Fijian Indian community in South Pacific”) Kathleen Harrington-Watt (“Historical Photography, Identity of Diaspora from Mauritius”)

Afternoon Tea Break (3:30 – 3:45)

Session Four (3:45–4:45) – Open

This is going to be a one hour session with presentations. We have space for two presentations half an hour each or three presentations 20 minutes each. Each presentation will be about 25 minutes with five minutes for questions and answers. The theme of the session will be determined once we have the presentation outlines.

Valedictory Session and Closure (4:45–5:00)

Our Third Annual Symposium

It’s a great pleasure to invite you to the third annual symposium of the New Zealand South Asia Centre on the 14th of September, 2012, at the MacMillan Brown Auditorium. As you know, the symposium is academic and will showcase research findings and will stage a platform of academic discussion of academics from different universities and research centres in New Zealand on the theme of “Culure, Identity, and Environment in South Asia”.

Professor Partha Ghosh from Jawaharlal Nehru University of India and the visiting Indian Council of Cultural Relations Chair, who will be visiting the university will deliver the keynote address. I’d greatly appreciate if you can kindly accept the invitation and deliver a short opening speech blessing the occasion. Please see below a copy of the proceedings of the symposium (current at this stage) for your review. If you are interested to submit a paper or would like to talk about your research, please let me know by email.

Kind Regards,

Arin Basu

Some notes and thoughts on 22nd June Meeting

This Friday (22nd June), we had a nearly four hour meeting at the University on the establishment of a NZ India Institute. In the meeting, we had several participants from outside of the university (Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Brian Moloughney, Amal Sanyal, Sita Venkateswar), several members of the administrative side of the university (Professor Ed Adelson, Bob, Professor Jarg Pettinga), and many of you were here as well, so I’d say it was well attended quite comprehensive deliberation of setting up of a NZ India initiative. I am going to write about my impressions of the meeting and my expectations. See what you think (disclaimer: these are my personal reflections only). In no particular order.

1. Sekhar proposes establishment of a so called NZ India Institute/centre (call it “Institute” now); there was not much scope of discussion as to where it should be located, he will set it up at Wellington (Brian supported). He was a little more open to the names as he initially proposed it as NZ India Centre but when Elaine debated what it could be named as a centre, he seemed to agree (but with a caveat that it will be “finalized” in the second meeting at his home turf: Wellington).

2. The scope, structure, funding model, etc of the Institute is not exactly clear. It seems that the institute will be physically located in Wellington, and it will have affiliation with similar units in other universities. In these universities there will be associate directors who will run the India centre or India unit as in case of NZSAC.

3. The institute at Victoria (Sekhar’s unit) is going to be funded by the Victoria University and it will have a body of governors and other members possibly drawn from all across New Zealand (not sure how many of us will be included 😉 ….).

4. This means that the other centers will need to raise their own funding and will need to sustain themselves. However, there may be limited sharing such as: (a) if Sekhar organizes a meeting in Wellington then these other centers will be welcome to send their delegates and papers, (b) If Sekhar has a visitor, he may send the visitor to these other centers and so on.

Nice in principle, has a great collegial theme to it, and is likely to work excellently in an environment where you have many researchers, diverse research agenda, and there is in general a collegial environment. Where I am concerned is that what is the chance that it will end up with a one university one person highly parochial show. As it is, this arrangement has little for us at Canterbury (that there will be no resource sharing and we will have to generate our own funds and in a time like post earthquake construction, chance of availing funds from Canterbury is really really limited). We are being asked to share quite a bit without any promise of any tangible benefits to us. Some real world resource sharing would be great (in terms of EFTS support and salary support). If the institute at Victoria will not share any financial resource for any Associate Directors in these other institutes, then why have “Associate Directors” at all? What are they “associated” with?

5. The other thing about this institute is its focus entirely on research and nothing on teaching. Clearly, any associate centre we set up here in the aegis of NZSAC will focus not only on research but also training or at least providing some level of academic supervision. Not clear how we negotiate with the central unit (the proposed structure being quite strongly federal with a centre and few regional units).

An interesting discussant in the meeting was Melanie Chapman from New Delhi India who joined us online (It was a most extraordinary of Melanie I thought to join us all the way online since 6 AM till 10 AM. The other online participant was Robyn from Massey although we have not heard much from her). She spoke at length about the emerging and established opportunities of engagement with India and about educational missions (she needs to know the developments of this by October this year to put this institute in the agenda for discussions of a ministerial level delegation to India from NZ). There are available pools of money that will foster research and collaboration with Indian universities and research centers.  Melanie is from EducationNZ and I am sure any funding from _that_ source will need to address at some point some aspect of education (primary, secondary, tertiary).

My overall take from the meeting is that, it’s a good idea. Very definitely, there is a case for us at NZSAC to be involved in the project and positively contribute towards it. Having said that, we need to have our own dialog process here to see what may work, and how we engage in it. I do not think we need to divert our agenda of sustaining research and teaching but only to enhance it. South Asia is much larger of a frame than India (even though India is geographically, economically a dominant force there). I think its important that we keep on moving ahead with our regular research meetings, our quest for funding, and build the focus around South Asia that includes India but also all the other countries around it.

We need to have a consensus and a collective voice of all our members. We have now several channels open to continue and extend our dialogues. I am interested to hear your opinions and suggestions for the next steps. There is another meeting scheduled on the 27th of July and there I expect we can carry the collective voices of NZSAC on the establishment of NZ India Institute or centre, whatever that may be.