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International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 776–796 | Cite as

Engaging Holism: Exploring Multispecies Approaches in Ethnoprimatology

  • Carolyn A. Jost RobinsonEmail author
  • Melissa J. Remis
Article

Abstract

Studying the human–alloprimate interface requires researchers to simultaneously examine multiple axes in the lives of organisms across zones of interaction. Such a multiscalar interface creates challenges for ethnoprimatological researchers who must situate their work within ecological, social, or anthropological paradigms. We argue that more explicit incorporation of multispecies ethnography and attention to the distinct practices of Japanese primatology help to realize and promote the potential of ethnoprimatology among a broader peer group of primatologists. Despite the utility of multispecies ethnography, the challenge is not in making multispecies theory applicable to our studies; it is in operationalizing it and making it more accessible by reframing how we view human–alloprimate entanglements. Current examinations of human–alloprimate inter-actions are limited in their ability to bring to bear the relational histories and futures of organisms in shared landscapes. Inter-actions draw attention to momentary encounters rather than to the extended entanglements and holistic properties that emerge from intra-actions within a multispecies assemblage. Using primate hunting in the Central African Republic as a locus of intra-action, we advocate for the expanded promise and future of an ethnoprimatology that can better address human–alloprimate entanglements, improve conservation efforts, and further anthropology’s growing attention to more than human worlds. This is a future that draws heavily from the complexity of the ethnographic moment to more broadly examine the nuanced, intersubjective relationships among those present at the human–alloprimate interface.

Keywords

Congo Basin Hunting Intra-action Japanese primatology Multispecies ethnography 

Notes

Acknowledgements

It is not possible to adequately express the immense gratitude and deep appreciation we have for the communities with whom we have been working with three past decades. Without the human and nonhuman inhabitants of Mossapoula, Yandoumbe, Bayanga, and Dzanga Sangha, this work would not be possible. We also thank WWF-Bayanga (World Wildlife Fund) and the Central African ministries for their continued support of our research. Thank you to Dr. Bill Alexander, Dr. Katie Smith, Alexandra Hofner, and Dr. Kerry Dore for their comments on early drafts of this article. Further, we would like to thank Erin P. Riley and Sindhu Radhakrishna for organizing this special issue.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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