Erin Riley

Ethnoprimatology

Toward the Sustainable Coexistence of Human and Nonhuman Primates in the 21st Century

In the U.S, primatology – the study of our closest living relatives – secured a home within the subfield of biological anthropology as a way to provide insight into human origins and the evolution of human behavior. In recent years, a new research approach – ethnoprimatology – has given primatology an expanded purpose in anthropology. Ethnoprimatology examines the multifaceted ways the histories, ecologies, lives, and livelihoods of humans and primates intersect. Most remaining populations of primates live in environments that have been influenced in some way by humans (e.g., protected forests bisected by major roads, forest-farm edges, and urban centers). Ethnoprimatology considers these environments where humans and other primates interface its primary concern, recognizing the value of studying how humans and other primates behave together, co-shaping each other’s ecology, sociality, and evolutionary trajectories. In this talk, I will explore the field of ethnoprimatology with some examples from my field research on the human-macaque interface in Indonesia to demonstrate the promise the ethnoprimatological approach shows in fostering an integrative anthropology, more pluralistic approaches to scientific inquiry, and the sustainable coexistence of humans and other primates in the 21st century and beyond.

Discussant: Larissa Swedell, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Queens College & CUNY Graduate Center Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town

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