Accepted paper:

Servants of Ganesh: inside the elephant stable


Piers Locke (University of Canterbury)
Mark Dugas (One World Films)

Paper short abstract:

Servants of Ganesh shows us the lifeworld of the elephant handlers of the Khorsor Elephant Breeding Center in Chitwan, Nepal, and the practical and religious aspects of their elephant training practices. 42' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Paper long abstract:

Servants of Ganesh is set in the Khorsor Elephant Breeding Center in Chitwan, Nepal. Showing us the daily lives of the handlers and the role of their elephants in nature tourism and in the management of the Chitwan National Park, Servants of Ganesh documents the training of a young elephant named Paras Gaj. The film follows his separation from his mother, the sacrificial rituals conducted to secure the goodwill of the gods, the evening training sessions in which he is familiarised with the sensations of the wider world, his daily driving training sessions, and the developing intimacy of the ritually regulated relationship between himself and his trainer Satya Narayan. Training is revealed as a focus of communal life in the elephant stable, where handlers and their elephants develop intimate relationships, and where we see how a shared community of practice forges an occupational identity among a professional sub group living in a total institution. Servants of Ganesh was shot by Mark Dugas during Piers Locke's doctoral fieldwork on identity and apprenticeship learning in Nepali captive elephant management in close collaboration with the handlers of Khorsor with whom Piers lived.

42' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

panel P43
Film programme