This book argues for a contemporary primatology that recognizes humans as integral components in the ecologies of primates. This contemporary primatology uses a broadened theoretical lens and methodological toolkit to study primate behavior and ecology in increasingly anthropogenic contexts and seeks points of intersection and spaces for collaborative exchange across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
The book begins by exploring the American tradition of anthropology, providing historical and disciplinary context for the emergence of field primatology and how it became a part of this tradition. It then examines how primatology transformed into a field dominated by evolutionary approaches and highlights how the increasingly anthropogenic environments in which primates live present opportunities to understand primate adaptability at work. In doing so, it explores how an extended evolutionary approach can help explain behavioral variation in these contemporary environments. Focus is then given to the ethnoprimatological approach, a contemporary approach that provides a pluralistic framework, drawing from the natural and social sciences and humanities, needed to study human-primate coexistence in the Anthropocene. Finally, the book considers how such a crossing of disciplines can inform primate conservation in the future.
An important interdisciplinary reassessment, this book will be of significant interest to primatologists, biological anthropologists, and scholars of anthropology more generally, as well as evolutionary and conservation biologists.
"Riley builds a compelling case for reinforcing and expanding the longstanding links that connect primatology with anthropology. By weaving her own research interests with both historical and contemporary trajectories in the field, she expertly demonstrates how multi-faceted and informative the human dimensions of primatology can be. Considering the severity of the anthropogenic threats faced by most primates today, Riley’s reminder of the anthropological roots of primatology comes at a critical time." – Karen B. Strier, Vilas Research Professor and Irven DeVore Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
"Essential reading for primatologists young and old, Riley provides the historical anthropological context for the emergence of North American primatology, introducing the key contributions made by pioneers in the field that set the stage for contemporary field primatology as we know it. A pioneer in ethnoprimatology, Riley champions the promise it holds for studying non-human primates in the Anthropocene." – Michael Huffman, Department of Ecology and Social Behavior at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan
"The Promise of Contemporary Primatology provides an insightful and well written journey through the history of primate studies and anthropology, highlighting how both are reconfigured as science, and how human-dominated landscapes intersect with research in the Anthropocene. Reclaiming primatology as anthropology is imperative for the field and for the conservation of species and habitats. A must-read book." – Shirley C. Strum, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, USA, and Director, Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project, Kenya
"The Promise of Contemporary Primatology is a must-read for all students of primatology and anthropology. Erin Riley masterfully traces the evolution of primatology over the years to show the field's integral links to anthropology and the very natural emergence of ethnoprimatology. Some previous studies have touched upon the tension in the relationship between anthropology and primatology; yet by framing this relationship against a historical perspective, Riley provides a much more holistic understanding of the kinship between the two disciplines. Riley successfully spotlights the strength of the interdisciplinarity that increasingly characterizes contemporary primatology, and achieves this in an engaging, accessible writing style that will appeal to the interested citizen as much as to scholars of the disciplines." – Sindhu Radhakrishna, National Institute of Advanced Studies, India
Foreword, Agustín Fuentes
1 Introduction: The promise of contemporary primatology
2 Franz Boas, American anthropology, and the biological-sociocultural divide
3 Primatology: Becoming anthropology
4 Primatology in anthropogenic contexts: An extended evolutionary approach
5 Primatology in anthropogenic contexts: The emergence of ethnoprimatology
6 Beyond the divide: Fieldwork, reflexivity, and multispecies worlds
7 Primate conservation in the 21st century and beyond
8 Conclusion: Reclaiming primatology as anthropology