Alternative elephant tourism and social media engagement: a case study from Thailand (2017)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsEason, Samantha Joyshow all
This thesis explores the experiences of peoples' encounters with elephants in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand with a volunteer tourism opportunity, and the exchanges that take place between people and the sanctuary through the sanctuary's Facebook posts. Employing a mixed-methods approach that combines participant observation at the locale of the sanctuary, and observation of comments on the sanctuary's Facebook posts, this thesis attempts to conduct a multispecies ethnography in both physical and virtual spaces to understand the meanings of elephant encounters and narratives about elephants for people, to understand peoples' experiences of wonder and fascination with elephants, and to reveal their perceptions of elephants. Situated in the emerging field of ethnoelephantology, this project draws on a number of disciplines to conceptualise the sanctuary as a networked community, as both a physical sanctuary for elephants and a virtual sanctuary for people, and as the site of a complex affect economy in which humans and elephants affect each others' lives.