Department of Anthropology

Karen Strier: Primate Ethnographies

Mon, April 22, 2013 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

"Primate Ethnographies: The Biological and Cultural Dimensions of Field Primatology"

A talk by Karen Strier, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Field primatologists employ empirical methods to collect systematic data that permit quantitative analyses of behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary hypotheses.  We are not ethnographers trained to study or write about human cultures, but during the course of our primate field studies, we spend years living and working in close proximity to other people whose lives we also come to know.  Primatological research does not take place in a cultural vacuum, but is embedded in the larger contexts of the local human communities within and around which our research takes place.  These human dimensions of primate fieldwork can be challenging to navigate, but they can also impact how we pursue our studies and ultimately, what we learn about the primates scientifically.  I will use my own experiences of conducting field research in southeastern Brazil over the past 30 years and insights gained from the essays I solicited from colleagues for a new edited volume to consider some of the cultural contexts of primate field research, and the effects of these contexts on both the primates and the primatologists who study them.

Karen B. Strier is Vilas Professor and Irven DeVore Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She received her Ph.D. from Harvard and is an international authority on the endangered northern muriqui monkey, which she has been studying in the Brazilian Atlantic forest since 1982.  Her pioneering research has been critical to conservation efforts on behalf of this species, and influential in broadening comparative perspectives on primate behavioral and ecological diversity.  She has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, including two single-authored books, Faces in the Forest: The Endangered Muriqui Monkeys of Brazil, and Primate Behavioral Ecology, which is now in its 4th edition.  Her newest edited volume, Primate Ethnographies, will be published in October 2013. 

 Dr. Strier is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is the recipient of an Honorary Degree (Doctorate of Science) from the University of Chicago and the Distinguished Primatologist Awards from the American Primatological Society and the Midwestern Primate Interest Group.  She has also been honored with a Lifetime Honorary Membership to the Brazilian Primatological Society.



For further information please contact Adriana Dingman at

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