現代タイにおけるクアイの人々が“ゾウ使い”になること : 人間と動物のコンタクト・ゾーンにおける変容と非対称性
The Kuay People Becoming “Mahouts” in Contemporary Thailand: Self-Transformation and Asymmetry in the Contact Zone Between Human and Animal
This study reconsiders the mahout-elephant relationship, which existing studies have assumed to be dichotomous, to discuss selftransformation and asymmetric power within the trans-species relationship, and adds the reversibility of power as a new dimension of Donna Haraway’s concept of the contact zone [Haraway, 2008]. To that end, this paper describes the process through which the Kuay people become mahouts, their lives together with elephants, within the sphere of their relationship with elephants.
In t he Taklang v illage, t he K uay p eople, who are known as skilled mahouts, define their mahout role as that of understanding elephants and negotiating with them. The Kuay do not become mahouts by applying for the job; instead, they establish relationships with individual elephants through face-to-face contact and thereby acquire the skills necessary to communicate with them. Likewise, the elephants also acquire skills to understand the instructions of their mahouts through training. As a result of these processes, both mahout and elephant internalize the ways to communicate with their partner.
The mahout-elephant relationship includes asymmetric power, through which humans control the life and death of these animals. However, physical differences can reverse that asymmetric power. Thus, mahouts and elephants communicate with each other by using the takho(hook), language, and their body. This study therefore goes on to demonstrate how humans live together with animals in a contact zone, characterized by self-transformation and reversible asymmetry.