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Synthetic primatology: what humans and chimpanzees do in a Japanese laboratory and the African field

  • NICOLAS LANGLITZ (a1)
Abstract

Against the background of humanities writing about animal agency, this article examines primatologist Tetsuro Matsuzawa's work with his ‘research partner’, the chimpanzee Ai, and her conspecifics at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and in an outdoor laboratory in Guinea from 1976 to 2016. This latest chapter in the history of Japanese primatology describes an attempt at synthesizing benchwork and fieldwork. It examines how what both humans and chimpanzees can do varies across a whole spectrum of scientific practices, bridging the gap between controlled experiments and field observations. While some recent animal studies literature has presented laboratory animals as deprived of agency and thereby implicitly attributed agency to creatures of the wild, this historical and ethnographic account does not take the analytic category of agency for granted, but examines how Japanese primatologists think about the ways in which chimpanzees interact with each other, with humans and with their environment.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
References
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2 The exception that proves the rule is an article in a philosophy journal, co-authored by a primatologist: Arruda, Caroline T. and Povinelli, Daniel J., ‘Chimps as secret agents’, Synthese (2016) 193, pp. 21292158 .

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7 Of course, quantum physics introduced a non-determinist logic into the natural sciences, but it has not affected the behavioural sciences in any significant way other than inspiring speculations about whether quantum effects in the brain could serve as a basis for free will. But even the stochastic nature of quantum effects could hardly serve as a basis for animal agency, as post-humanists understand it.

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26 Nakamura, op. cit. (13).

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37 Asquith, ‘Some aspects of anthropomorphism’, op. cit. (8), p. 248.

38 Asano et al., op. cit. (31). Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, ‘Colour naming and classification in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)’, Journal of Human Evolution (1985) 14, pp. 283291 .

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42 Berlin and Kay, op. cit. (40), p. 109. Chomsky, Noam, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1965 .

43 Skinner, op. cit. (39). Radick, Gregory, ‘The unmaking of a modern synthesis: Noam Chomsky, Charles Hockett, and the politics of behaviorism, 1955–1965’, Isis (2016) 107, pp. 4973 . Chomsky, Noam, ‘A review of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior’, Language (1959) 35, pp. 2658 .

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45 Matsuzawa, op. cit. (38), p. 290.

46 Inoue, Sana and Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, ‘Working memory of numerals in chimpanzees’, Current Biology (2007) 17, pp. R1004R1005 .

47 Kuklick, Henrika and Kohler, Robert E., ‘Introduction to “Science in the Field”’, Osiris (1996) 11, pp. 114, 3.

48 Langlitz, Nicolas, Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012 .

49 Malinowski, Bronislaw, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, London: Routledge, 1922 .

50 Goodall, Jane, In the Shadow of Man, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1971 .

51 For example, Hayes and Hayes, op. cit. (30); Terrace, Herbert S., Nim: A Chimpanzee Who Learned Sign Language, London: Eyre Methuen, 1980 ; Fouts, Roger, Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me about Who We Are, New York: Morrow, William, & Co., Inc., 1997 . For an opinionated but thorough overview see Wallman, Joel, Aping Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992 ; Dupré, John, ‘Conversations with apes: reflections on the scientific study of language’, in Dupré, Humans and Other Animals, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002, pp. 236257 .

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53 Geertz, Clifford, ‘Thick description: toward an interpretive theory of culture’, in Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, New York: Basic Books, 1973, pp. 330 .

54 Savage-Rumbaugh, Sue, Fields, William M., Segerdahl, Pär and Rumbaugh, Duane, ‘Culture prefigures cognition in Pan/Homo bonobos’, Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia Y Fundamentos de La Ciencia (2005) 20, pp. 311328, 313.

55 Sakai, Tomoko, Hirata, Satoshi, Fuwa, Kohki, Sugama, Keiko, Kusonoki, Kiyo, Makishima, Haruyuki, Eguchi, Tatsuya, Yamada, Shigehito, Ogihara, Naomichi and Takeshita, Hideko, ‘Fetal brain development in chimpanzees versus humans’, Current Biology (2012) 22, pp. R791R792 ; Takeshita, Hideko, Myowa-Yamakoshi, Masako and Hirata, Satoshi, ‘A new comparative perspective on prenatal motor behaviors: preliminary research with four-dimensional ultrasonography’, in Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, Tomonaga, Masaki and Tanaka, Masayuki (eds.), Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees, Tokyo: Springer, 2006, pp. 3747 .

56 Kano, Fumihiro, Tomonaga, Masaki and Warrant, Eric James, ‘Head-mounted eye tracking of a chimpanzee under naturalistic conditions’, PLoS ONE (2013) 8, p. e59785.

57 Ueno, Ari, Hirata, Satoshi, Fuwa, Kohki, Sugama, Keiko, Kusonoki, Kiyo, Matsuda, Goh, Fukushima, Hirokata, Hiraki, Kazuo, Tomonaga, Masaki and Hasegawa, Toshikazu, ‘Brain activity in an awake chimpanzee in response to the sound of her own name’, Biology Letters (2010) 6, pp. 311313 ; Ueno, Ari, Hirata, Satoshi, Fuwa, Kohki, Sugama, Keiko, Kusonoki, Kiyo, Matsuda, Goh, Fukushima, Hirokata, Hiraki, Kazuo, Tomonaga, Masaki and Hasegawa, Toshikazu, ‘Auditory ERPs to stimulus deviance in an awake chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, towards hominid cognitive neurosciences’, PloS One (2008) 3, p. e1442.

58 Matsuzawa, op. cit. (1); Matsuzawa, op. cit. (29).

59 Matsuzawa, op. cit. (1), p. 208.

60 Boesch, Christophe, ‘What makes us human (Homo sapiens)? The challenge of cognitive cross-species comparison’, Journal of Comparative Psychology (2007) 121, pp. 227240 ; Boesch, ‘Taking development and ecology seriously when comparing cognition: reply to Tomasello and Call, 2008’, Journal of Comparative Psychology (2008) 122, pp. 453455 .

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62 Takada, op. cit. (61), p. 17.

63 Kohler, op. cit. (25), p. 174.

64 McGrew, William C., The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 45 .

65 Radick, Gregory, The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007 .

66 Yamakoshi, Gen, ‘The “prehistory” before 1976: looking back on three decades of research on Bossou chimpanzees’, in Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, Humle, Tatyana and Sugiyama, Yukimaru (eds.), The Chimpanzees of Bossou and Nimba, Tokyo: Springer Japan, 2011, pp. 3544, 3740 .

67 Kawai, Masao, ‘On the rank system in a natural group of Japanese monkey (I) – the basic and dependent rank’, Primates (1957) 1, pp. 111130 .

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69 Daston, Lorraine and Galison, Peter, Objectivity, New York: Zone Books, 2007 ; Mitman, Gregg, ‘Cinematic nature: Hollywood technology, popular culture, and the American Museum of Natural History’, Isis (1993) 84, pp. 637661 ; Montgomery, Georgina M., ‘Place, practice and primatology: Clarence Ray Carpenter, primate communication and the development of field methodology, 1931–1945’, Journal of the History of Biology (2005) 38, pp. 495533 .

70 Tetsuro Matsuzawa, ‘Field experiments of tool-use’, in Matsuzawa, Humle and Sugiyama, op. cit. (66), p. 160.

71 Radick, op. cit. (65), p. 364.

72 Radick, op. cit. (65), p. 368.

73 Matsuzawa, op. cit. (70), p. 157.

74 McGrew, op. cit. (64), p. 182.

75 Montgomery, op. cit. (69).

76 Matsuzawa, op. cit. (70), p. 163.

77 Hockings, Kimberley J., Bryson-Morrison, Nicola, Carvalho, Susana, Fujisawa, Michiko, Humle, Tatyana, McGrew, William C., Nakamura, Miho, Ohashi, Gaku, Yamanashi, Yumi, Yamakoshi, Gen and Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, ‘Tools to tipple: ethanol ingestion by wild chimpanzees using leaf-sponges’, Royal Society Open Science (2015) 2, pp. 16 .

78 Fuentes, Agustín and Hockings, Kimberley J., ‘The ethnoprimatological approach in primatology’, American Journal of Primatology (2010) 72, pp. 841847 .

79 Leblan, Vincent, ‘Introduction: emerging approaches in the anthropology/primatology borderland’, Revue de primatologie (2013) 5, pp. 116, 3.

80 Fuentes, Agustín, ‘Naturalcultural encounters in Bali: monkeys, temples, tourists, and ethnoprimatology’, Cultural Anthropology (2010) 25, pp. 600624, 600.

81 Fuentes, op. cit. (80), p. 610.

82 Fuentes, op. cit. (80), p. 603; Imanishi, op. cit. (9), pp. 74–78.

83 Kimberley J. Hockings, Gen Yamakoshi and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, ‘Dispersal of a human-cultivated crop by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in a forest–farm matrix’, International Journal of Primatology, 2 November 2016, pp. 1–22.

84 Hockings, Kimberley J., McLennan, Matthew R., Carvalho, Susana, Ancrenaz, Marc, Bobe, René, Byrne, Richard W., Dunbar, Robin I.N., Matsuzawa, Tetsuro, McGrew, William C., Williamson, Elizabeth A., Wilson, Michael L., Wood, Bernard, Wrangham, Richard W. and Hill, Catherine M.Apes in the Anthropocene: flexibility and survival’, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2015) 30, pp. 215222 .

85 Nishida, op. cit. (28), p. 65.

86 Asquith, op. cit. (9), p. 35.

87 Imanishi, op. cit. (9), p. 74.

88 Imanishi, op. cit. (9), p. 86.

89 DeMello, Margo, Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human–Animal Studies, New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, p. 50 .

This research would not have been possible without the generous support of Tetsuro Matsuzawa and his colleagues at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, Japan, and in Bossou, Guinea. I am also grateful to Satoshi Hirata, Naruki Morimura and Mike Seres, who introduced me to their work at Kumamoto Sanctuary, and to Osamu Sakura and Cat Hobaiter, who provided very different angles on chimpanzee life and Japanese primatology. For comments on earlier drafts of this paper, I would like to thank Talia Dan-Cohen, Gabriela Bezerra de Melo Daly, Hugh Raffles, Tobias Rees, Wakana Suzuki and two anonymous peer reviewers. I also profited from the piercing critiques of the participants of the Berlin workshop Evidentiary Practices, especially Michael Guggenheim's.

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