Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Second Advisor

Elena Bastidas

Third Advisor

Robin Cooper


human-animal relations, human-elephant conflict, human-wildlife conflict, more-than-human, multispecies, wildlife conservation


This qualitative multiple case study explored human-elephant conflict-coexistence relationships and issues of conservation in Namibia (Damaraland) and Sri Lanka (Wasgamuwa) from a posthumanist, multispecies perspective. Within each region, conflict between humans and elephants is considered high, elephants are considered endangered and are of high conservation priority, the human population has grown significantly, and community-based organizations are implementing holistic approaches to increase positive relations between humans and elephants. This study was guided by research questions that explored the current landscape of the human-elephant-conservation nexus within each region, the shared histories between humans and elephants over time, and the value in utilizing more-than-human theoretical and methodological frameworks to enhance human-elephant relationships and support conservation efforts. Data collection methods included participant observation, naturalistic observation, interviews, visual data, and documents. Data was triangulated and analyzed within each case, as well as across cases. Major themes were identified within each case that describe unique contexts, cultures, and shared histories. These findings were then analyzed comparatively. Emergent themes across cases identified ways that a more-than-human framework may be useful in fostering coexistence between humans and elephants and supporting conservation efforts. This study contributes to the evolving scholarship on multispecies approaches to inquiry and methodology from the position of conflict resolution scholar, supports a more inclusive framework for analyzing human-wildlife conflicts, discusses theoretical and methodological implications in multispecies research, and provides recommendations for future research.