The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) of India: a liminal animal


Anthropology, East Carolina University, Anthropology, East Carolina University

Friday Afternoon, 301D Add to calendar

Donaldson and Kymlicka in Zoopolis (2011) divide animals into three groups: domesticated, wild, and liminal animals. Liminal animals are different than domesticated and wild animals in that their habitats overlap with humans but individual humans do not owned them. Examples include raccoons, squirrels, and feral domestic cats. Liminal animals may have domesticated or wild counterparts but have adapted to their anthropogenic habitats and are not easily domesticated or reintroduced into the wild. Rhesus monkeys are an example of a liminal animal that live in empty houses, parks and public gardens in the cities of India. They accept handouts of food, steal food from homes and markets, and forage for insects and vegetation wherever they are available. The overwhelming dangers to city monkeys are people who do not appreciate their presence and feral domestic dogs. While Westerners may be aware of the liminal animals living around them, they do not encounter monkeys in their daily activities. Moreover, Western religious literature lacks a role of animals such as that found in the role of Hanuman, the monkey semi-God, in the Hindu literature of the Ramayama. Because of popularity of the Ramayana and the role of Hanuman, monkeys are afforded protection and respect by the Hindus of India. As a result of the misunderstanding of the position of monkeys in Indian culture, news stories that appear in Western newspapers are often misleading. This poster explores the ethnoprimatology of the rhesus monkey of India and the misunderstandings of Westerns news reporters.

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