Eben Kirksey: "Becoming Wild: The Monkeys of Florida's Silver River"
Fri, October 3, 2014 • 4:00 PM • SAC 5.118
Florida is home to free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca
mulatta). We followed these wild animals from the national mediascape
to the state legislature, from suburban enclaves and animal rescue
facilities to the banks of the Silver River. Upwards of 130 monkeys
live along this river, near Ocala, Florida, which was the backdrop for
the original Tarzan films. Integrating the theories and methods of
multispecies ethnography and ethnoprimatology, we studied human-monkey
interactions at Silver Springs State Park. Contagious excitement and
infectious fears jump across species boundaries during wild
encounters. Amidst situations of heightened risk and danger,
concerned citizens are cultivating quiet forms of wildness,
instructing casual visitors about interspecies politeness and tact.
Monkey advocates, and legions of on-line activists, are defending the
autonomy of these primates. Animal activists have blocked
conservationists who have tried to remove these monkeys from Florida.
For now, they have been left free to roam in the wild.
S. Eben Kirksey is a DECRA Fellow, Australian Research Council (2014-2017) and Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales