This paper traces past and present entanglements between people and elephants along a forest-agriculture fringe in Kerala's Western Ghats. In doing so, it explores the evolution of conservation-linked conflict and its problematic impacts. Over the centuries, the region's elephants have
played a dominant role in its mountain landscapes: as antagonists to cultivators; as sources of ivory, labour and revenue to forest traders, local rulers and imperial administrators; and as cultural and religious icons straddling forests and countryside. Environmental protection arrangements
in recent years ushered in a new elephant, a charismatic flagship beloved of conservationists, but also a key actor involved in fluctuating tensions along the forest edge. In this study, I explore long-term engagements between people and elephants by interrogating three critical phases in
history, each incorporating a changing identity for the place in question: as a bountiful, ivory-rich forest at the turn of the Christian Era; as a site of capitalist production during the colonial period; and eventually as a contested conservation landscape. I show that these identities are
predicated as much by extra-local processes such as migration and capitalist enterprises, as by embedded engagements with non-human agency. Contemporary conflict is, therefore, a complex ongoing narrative fuelled by a dynamic interaction between the persistence of human and animal memories
as well as by multi-scale socio-political catalysts with long histories of influence. By ignoring historical contingencies and diverse discourses, contemporary conservation interventions may overlook the proverbial and sometimes literal elephant in the room.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
Document Type: Research Article
May 1, 2019
This article was made available online on April 18, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Elephant in the Room: Histories of Place, Memory and Conflict with Wildlife Along a Southern Indian Forest Fringe".
More about this publication?
Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.
Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Membership Information
- Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites