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Chimpanzee Culture WarsRethinking Human Nature alongside Japanese, European, and American Cultural Primatologists$
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Nicolas Langlitz

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691204284

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691204284.001.0001

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(p.7) Introduction
Chimpanzee Culture Wars

Nicolas Langlitz

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of the ensuing controversy over chimpanzee culture. Japanese and Euro-American primatologists have come to question whether humans are the only primates capable of culture — that is, whether culture amounts to human nature. In the 1950s, Japanese primatologists around Kinji Imanishi proposed to attribute “subhuman culture” — or kaluchua, as they called it — to nonhuman primates. In the course of the 1970s and 1980s, a growing number of European and American primatologists and evolutionary anthropologists chimed in with Japanese anthropomorphism and wondered how unique the cultural nature of Homo sapiens really was. Just as cultural anthropologists have struggled to account for the loss of cultural diversity during five centuries of Euro-American domination (currently on the wane), cultural primatology is now confronted with the question of how to make sense of the eradication of nonhuman cultural and biological diversity in light of modern humans' savage success.

Keywords:   chimpanzee culture, cultural primatology, cultural primatologists, human culture, subhuman culture, nonhuman primates, evolutionary anthropologists, Japanese anthropomorphism, cultural diversity, Kinji Imanishi

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