Séminaire : « Mutation, Hybridation, Contamination »
Ecole normale supérieure,
Salle Cavaillès, 45 rue d’Ulm, 75005
Jeudi 3 novembre , 15 :00-17 :00
The subtle line between Homo and Pan:
The case of a human-chimpanzee hybrid community in a Japanese laboratory.
Gabriela Bezerra de Melo Daly
École Normale Supérieure (Archives Husserl)
EHESS (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale)
CAPES, Brazilian Ministry of Education
In a Japanese laboratory of non invasive cognitive research with chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), the line between humans and animals is apparently evident and straightforward, but unlike many laboratories where contact with animal subjects is restricted, in this case, these researchers actively participate in the lives of the animals they study, and their relationship is said to be based on mutual trust. Husbandry protocol integrates chimpanzees as legitimate social actors, so that experiments can be conducted smoothly. Continuity between chimpanzees and humans is emphasized on multiple levels, drawing on scientific phylogenetic proximity between Pan and Homo, but also on Japanese animistic practices. Chimpanzees are socialized into several aspects of the human world, and researchers are encouraged to consider chimpanzees’ perspective. The interaction between researchers and chimpanzees creates a hybrid interspecific hierarchy where in specific contexts a chimpanzee may even acquire a higher position than a human. On the other hand, the danger of working with this wild species imposes physical and symbolic barriers where the line between humans and animals is firmly drawn. Whereas no clear a priori continuity and discontinuity are established, the contextual character of these boundaries renders social interaction with chimpanzees notably complex. These analyses are based upon long-term etho-ethnographic fieldwork in this laboratory and upon personal experience as chimpanzee experimenter at the same institution.