Working with Elephants - Interspecies Teamwork

Working with Elephants - Interspecies Teamwork

30. 07. 2020

Public lecture by Paul Keil available online.

Dr. Paul Keil recently gave an online public lecture about aspects of his ethnographic research on human-elephant relations, focusing on the working elephant relation. The presentation was hosted by the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a respected charity that promotes progressive management of captive Thai elephants and supports many other wild elephant and conservation projects. Their education lecture series have been streaming talks by an inter-disciplinary set of elephant professionals during the Covid-19 Lockdown, and are designed for a non-professional audience.

Keil’s begins the lecture by briefly exploring how as an anthropologist, he approached his study of human-elephant relations. Keil then progresses to giving a portrait of the core members of a human-elephant working community with whom he conducted fieldwork, contextualizing these actors from an historical, cultural and political perspective. Finally, Keil focuses on the micro-interaction of elephant handler and elephant, and asks how do two species, with different minds and bodies, coordinate as a team in order to solve shared tasks and problems.