This chapter discusses the importance of elephants as especially potent political symbols in Laos. It first considers the ways in which elephants are linked to past royalty as well as the importance of past royalty in Nakai as a localized rather than a national history. It then examines how the contemporary political salience of elephants in Nakai represents an ideal form of domestication or civilization due to its potential to cross boundaries between the muang and pa. It also explores human-elephant conflict and the illegal poaching of elephants in Nakai, along with the exemption of elephants from human consumption. It shows how emergent human–elephant conflict, illegal poaching, and beliefs about elephant consumption in Nakai intersect with state authority.
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