Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This article identifies a standardized account, now in wide circulation, of Jane Goodall's discovery in 1960 of chimpanzee "tool-making," thereby demonstrating (Goodall claimed) the distinctive closeness of chimpanzees and humans. The piece traces this standardized account to Goodall's own 1971 work, In the Shadow of Man. Comparing the 1971 account of the incident to both a) reports of Goodall's work before then and b) her own field notes from 1960, the piece shows that Goodall's 1971 work projected back into the initial moment of observation encodings and interpretations not present in the initial moment of observation. In so doing, the 1971 account empiricized (and de-historicized) its encodings and interpretations. Specifically obscured by this instance of retrospective empiricizing, moreover, is Goodall's reliance on a functionalist (and thus culture-free) understanding of human tools and tool-making, in her larger claims about the closeness of chimpanzees to humans. A final section of the piece looks at the ideological work done by the pervasive signifying of chimpanzee-human closeness by Goodall's public persona in our time, taking that persona to be an instance of a rare type—a "serious celebrity." Along the way, the piece registers elements of historical specificity in Goodall's relationship to her mentor Louis Leakey, the Gombe field site in Tanzania professionalized science, and more

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 1189-1235
Launched on MUSE
2018-02-16
Open Access
N
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