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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.302) Conclusion
Chimpanzee Culture Wars

Nicolas Langlitz

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter reviews what the previous chapters have revealed about cultural primatology. It compares the knowledge cultures of Christophe Boesch's field station, Michael Tomasello's laboratory, Tetsuro Matsuzawa's laboratory, and Matsuzawa's field station with each other to map a space of no-longer-available possibilities. Boesch's fieldwork on wild chimpanzees and Tomasello's laboratory experiments on captive chimpanzees contradicted each other regarding the capacity of Pan troglodytes for culture and cooperation. Boesch and Tomasello could not agree because the fieldworker doubted the ecological validity of the experimenter's findings, while the experimenter denied that field observations could provide any insights into what caused the observed behaviors, leaving chimpanzee ethnographers unable to rule out alternative explanations of supposedly cultural behaviors. Meanwhile, Matsuzawa's laboratory research at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and his field research in Bossou presented an interesting contrast to the disagreements between the two because he integrated lab and field in his own work. He studied the social learning of nut cracking through field observation, field experiment, participation observation, and controlled laboratory experiment — and conceived of his synthesis of all these approaches as an expression of Japanese holism.

Keywords:   cultural primatology, Christophe Boesch, Michael Tomasello, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, chimpanzees, chimpanzee ethnographers, cultural behaviors, social learning

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