Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sapien: Anthropology has long focused on questions of identity, Now, Human primate identities

Anthropology has long focused on questions of identity, in one form or another, at least since its origins as an academic 'discipline,' say, in 1843 (with the Royal Anthropological Institute -

What it hasn't focused on - with its concern for identities and peoples who have been disadvantaged vis-a-vis colonialism, industrialization and globalization, for example - is human primate identities. I'd like to bring this concept into the academic discipline of anthropology, gingerly, yet clearly.

To consider modern human groups and 'subcultures' as human primate identities, first and foremost, living in 2010, for example, is something anthropologists haven't considered very much, in what I've read. No one has begun to draw parallels, for example, between human primate identities and common chimps vis-a-vis Bonobo chimps (as well as the two species of Orangutans and Gorillas, and all the other 365-ish higher primate species), vis-a-vis questions of family, violence, group organization, agency and structure questions, sexuality, subjectivity, etc. {I'm a primate - Homo Sapien - who is also a sociocultural anthropologist}. While there are numerous, potential, methodological problems with this, I think many sociocultural anthropologists have read little or none of the primatalogical literature. Contemporary sociocultural anthropologists rarely focus their field research on Homo sapiens, with primate comparison in mind. Yet ethnographic and primatological field sites, and research methods, are very similar.

An emphasis on the contemporary, and sociocultural anthropological field work vis-a-vis Homo sapiens, explicitly, say, in relation to counterculture or hippies, for example, would bear much fruit.

( - January 13, 2010)

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