Anandi Gandhi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Cruz, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10505

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Gandhi, Anandi (California, Santa Cruz, U. of) "Coexistent Futures: Asian Elephant-Farmer Relations in a Changing World"

The ongoing extinction of megafauna is a defining feature of the Anthropocene and the future of the remaining 5% of Asian elephant population is uncertain. As elephants migrate from forests into industrial farms, tense encounters with farmers and rangers occur daily. Farmers and elephants are losing lives and limbs in South and South-East Asia as historical, ecological, political, and economic forces push elephants and farmers closer together on agricultural landscapes. However, conflict is not the only kind of interaction taking place. In Eastern Thailand farmers describe coexistence with elephants as ‘kan lae kan’ whereby ‘we cannot live together, but we must survive together’. This research focuses on the possibilities of coexistence amidst violence and loss and asks, what socio-ecological conditions allow farmers and elephants to coexist in a changing world? To answer this question, I follow elephant-farmer socialities as they become together along with the mediation of different types of agricultural and forested landscapes. I take a multispecies anthropological and ecological approach to explore elephant and farmer responses to each other, crops and cultivation systems, conservation and economic policies, and colonial and capitalist landscape transformation. Studying coexistence may reveal what it takes to live alongside nonhumans on the edge.