Accepted Paper:

Anthropological commentary on panthropology: genetic variation or culture  


Takeo Funabiki (University of Tokyo)

Paper short abstract:

Commenting cultural anthropologically on each paper from 3 points: 1. theoretical concept of culture in non-human primates; 2. are local differences for non-human primates limiting condition or driving force for creating culture?; 3. any identity or “ethnicity” among non-human primates?

Paper long abstract:

When we examine a certain human phenomenon, a cultural anthropologist has little or no hesitation to assume that it is culture. Conversely, a primatologist is more careful to regard a certain behavior as "culture". It is partly derived from each academic history, but even more so from general discourse of modern era. Modern age has, rather, considered everything as human creation, culture, while stressing, not found in animals. We should pay more attention to non-human primates’ transmitted collective behavior as culture.

I would examine the papers from three points. First, I am interested in the initial presumption of the panelists that they can discover the collective behavior among the non-human primates under observation. What they found might have been what they wished to find. I am skeptical.

Secondly, if the process of cultural evolution of non-human primates is that environmental difference makes a certain characteristic more adaptive to the natural circumstances, and then consequentially forces its features’ expansion, it would seem contrary to how human culture is created. Human culture has been developed in a way where it tends to get over the natural environment of humans, which is seen as a limiting condition, but it seems precisely this environment that serves as a driving force for non-human primates’ evolution.

Lastly, I would like to know if we could go on and find further cultural identity or “ethnicity” among non-human primates. Do non-human primates use certain cultural traits to exclude, or include, other mates from and into their group?

Panel P146
Local differences in ecology and behavior of non-human primates: genetic variation or culture? (PSJ panel)