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Open Access Animal Cultures, Subjectivity, and Knowledge: Symmetrical Reflections beyond the Great Divide 1

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Animal Cultures, Subjectivity, and Knowledge: Symmetrical Reflections beyond the Great Divide 1

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Abstract This article reflects upon the implications for sociology of the steady accumulation of evidence in the sciences of animal behavior pointing to the existence of culture among nonhuman animals. With a particular focus on primatology, it explores how these developments challenge the notions of “culture” that continue to inform the study of human social life. The article argues that this growing challenge to the assumption of human uniqueness that has historically provided the core rationale for sociology cannot be ignored. The paper thus contributes to the overdue work of articulating a constructive response by tracing the issues involved in the encounter between these knowledges. Theoretical currents from science studies and actor-network theory are drawn upon in order to propose a reflexive and symmetrical realignment of this encounter, with significant implications for our understandings of human and animal being and subjectivity.

Affiliations: 1: University of Manchester Richie.Nimmo@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract This article reflects upon the implications for sociology of the steady accumulation of evidence in the sciences of animal behavior pointing to the existence of culture among nonhuman animals. With a particular focus on primatology, it explores how these developments challenge the notions of “culture” that continue to inform the study of human social life. The article argues that this growing challenge to the assumption of human uniqueness that has historically provided the core rationale for sociology cannot be ignored. The paper thus contributes to the overdue work of articulating a constructive response by tracing the issues involved in the encounter between these knowledges. Theoretical currents from science studies and actor-network theory are drawn upon in order to propose a reflexive and symmetrical realignment of this encounter, with significant implications for our understandings of human and animal being and subjectivity.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-07

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