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Accepted Paper:

The Extinction of Chimpanzee Cultures: A Plea for Fatalism  
Nicolas Langlitz (The New School for Social Research)

Paper short abstract:

As soon as cultural primatologists discovered chimpanzee cultures, they realized that they were on the wane. This talk examines the resulting salvage primatology. It concludes with a plea for fatalist acceptance of natural or naturecultural history: eventually, all species go the way of the dodo.

Paper long abstract:

Just like early cultural anthropologists realized that the remote cultures they had just encountered were already on the wane, cultural primatologists recently discovered cultures in nonhuman primates and they too are doomed by their contact with modern humans. This talk describes two scientific responses to the ensuing endangerment sensibility: (1) a big data approach to collect as much information about quickly disappearing chimpanzee cultures as possible; (2) the creation of an ethnographic archive to preserve not primates but primatological knowledge for future generations of researchers who can no longer do fieldwork among wild chimpanzees. While chimpanzee ethnographers also follow in the footsteps of their anthropological forebears in that they make intense efforts to advocate for the communities they study, projections of human demography suggest that they can only play for time. Instead of fostering “biocultural hope,” I plead for a fatalist acceptance of natural (or naturecultural) history, in which all species will at some point have to go the way of the dodo.

Panel Exti11b
Reconsidering an anthropology of endings II
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -