International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 705–729 | Cite as

The Maturation of Ethnoprimatology: Theoretical and Methodological Pluralism

  • Erin P. RileyEmail author


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). The field of ethnoprimatology has made these environments where humans and other primates interface its primary concern, recognizing that to fully understand primate behavior, our research objectives and practice cannot be disengaged from the human dimension. During the field’s initial years, scholars drew largely from theory and technique in primate ecology and sociocultural anthropology. The contributions to this Special Issue, which include empirical research and review papers, exemplify how the ethnoprimatologist’s toolkit has since expanded to include concepts, frameworks, and methods from the natural sciences (evolutionary biology, conservation ecology, epidemiology), and the social sciences and humanities (anthropology, geography, philosophy, and science studies). Moreover, the settings in which to examine the human–primate interface have diversified to include rural, urban, mixed-landscape, and captive spaces. In this introduction, I review the emergence and scope of ethnoprimatology. I then challenge some of the critiques leveled against ethnoprimatology and highlight its broader conceptual contributions, key elements of the field’s maturation, and recent trends in theoretically and methodologically integrative scholarship in ethnoprimatology. I conclude by offering a set of postulates to guide future ethnoprimatological work that is theoretically and methodological pluralistic and positioned to advance effective primate conservation efforts and facilitate sustainable human–primate coexistence.


Anthropology Community ecology Conservation Human–animal studies Human–primate coexistence Mixed-methods 



I would like to thank Dr. Sindhu Radhakrishna, my co-organizer of the symposium on “Expanded Ecologies: Theoretical and Methodological Advancements in the Study of Human–Primate Interface” held at the 2016 joint IPS/ASP meetings that led to this special issue, all of the contributors to the issue, and Editor-in-Chief Dr. Joanna Setchell for her encouragement and patience. I am grateful to Supanon Kimpitak for her assistance with graphics. I also thank two anonymous reviewers and Joanna Setchell for their constructive comments on this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication November/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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