College of Liberal Arts

Elephants, Kings and the Environment

Thursday Apr 19, 2018 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM | Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118), UT Austin Campus

Thomas Trautmann, University of Michigan, will speak on "Elephants, Kings and the Environment" as part of the Spring South Asia Seminar Series.  

Indian kings began capturing wild elephants and training them up to be instruments of war three thousand years ago. Because it was impractical to breed elephants in captivity they were captured as wild adults in forests.  We could say that elephants were domesticated one by one, through the ages. The institution of the war elephant gave rulers an incentive to protect both wild elephants and forests; as a result, India today has more wild Asian elephants than any other country.  The institution of the war elephant spread westward to Persia, Hellenistic Syria and Egypt, Carthage, and Rome; and it spread eastward to the Indianizing kingdoms of Southeast Asia, but not to China.  Paradoxically the institution of the war elephant contributed to the protection of wildlife and forests, and a land ethic that valued both.

The seminar series theme is "Musth: Somatic States in South Asia," convened by Martha Ann Selby, Department of Asian Studies. A light reception will precede the event at 3pm.

This talk is FREE! and open to the public.

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