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Johns Hopkins University Press
Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes / Edition 1

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes / Edition 1

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801838330
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 01/28/1989
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.16(w) x 9.19(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Frans de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. His books include Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, Peacemaking among Primates, and Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals.

What People are Saying About This

William McGrew

The best book ever written on the social life of apes in captivity . . . The author has that special empathetic insight into the mind of the chimpanzee which is shared by few but can somehow be recognized by many.
—(William McGrew, Human Ethology Newsletter)

Jim Collins

Even more enlightening than Machiavelli's The Prince this book describes power takeovers and social organizations in a chimpanzee colony . . . I'll never look at academic or corporate politics the same way


Exclusive Barnes & Author Essay

My Double Life

My first taste for popularization came in the 1970s when I worked at the Arnhem Zoo, in the Netherlands. For years, I addressed organized groups of zoo visitors, including lawyers, housewives, university students, psychotherapists, police academies, bird-watchers, and so on. There is no better sounding board for a would-be popularizer. The visitors would yawn at some of the hottest academic issues but react with recognition and fascination to basic chimpanzee psychology that I had begun to take for granted. I learned that the only way to tell my story was to bring the individual chimpanzees to life and pay attention to actual events rather than the abstractions that scientists are so fond of.

Writing popular science books is both a pleasure and an obligation. It is a pleasure, because one writes under fewer constraints than in scientific articles that leave no room for an anecdote here and a speculation there. Peer-reviewed journal articles aren't always fun to produce.

There is a need for popularization. This is where the obligation comes in: Someone needs to explain to the larger audience what the field is all about. This may be hard for some disciplines, such as chemistry or mathematics, but if one works with monkeys and apes, as I do, it is a thankful, easy task. Like us, these animals live in soap operas of family affairs and power politics, so that all one needs to do is dig into their personal lives while attaching whatever scientific messages one wishes to discuss. People relate very easily to primate behavior and do so for the right reasons: The similarities with their own experiences are striking and fundamental.

And so, I began to lead a double life early on in my career. On the one hand, I am now a university professor and scientist who needs to write papers and obtain grants. At the same time, I am a popularizer who tries to see the bigger picture. Initially, I mainly communicated about my own work -- such as in Chimpanzee Politics and Peacemaking Among Primates -- but more and more my writings cover the work of others. My later books, such as Bonobo, Good Natured, and my most recent book, The Ape and the Sushi Master, are good examples: My own studies constitute only a fraction of what is going on in the field of primatology.

My mission in The Ape and the Sushi Master is to abolish the traditional Western dualisms between human and animal, body and mind, and especially culture and nature. I don't know why I am so fundamentally opposed to these dualisms -- many other scientists fervently embrace them. It must have something to do with how close or distant one thinks one is to animals. At the very least -- even if I won't convince everyone -- I hope to make my readers reflect on where these attitudes come from: how they are tied to human self-perception shaped by culture and religion.

--Frans de Waal

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