Rachel DeMotts, Environmental Policy and Decision Making and Politics & Government
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The Elephants of Our Imagination
They are the largest terrestrial animal on the planet, graceful, familial, protective, intelligent - and evocative. From halfway around the world, we consider their majesty and are shocked as stories of escalating ivory poaching percolate to the surface and indicate a clear threat. But we encounter elephants with the luxury of distance to protect us; they do not consume our food supply or snap off our water pipes or linger in the dusty road outside our homes and obstruct our paths to school and work. How might we see them differently if they did?
In Botswana, the population of elephants has nearly tripled in the last 30 years even as poaching is on the rise once again. China's insatiable demands for ivory fuel a black market that is becoming more and more dangerous for both wildlife and people in rural areas. At the same time, tourists seek out notions of pristine wilderness and chase the perfect photo of an elephant at the river illuminated by the setting sun. The view from the village is far less idyllic, and much harder to see. This talk will be an exploration of view - from both here and away - in an effort to complicate the elephants we imagine and the spaces they occupy.