Eben Kirksey Visits Yale-NUS

The Anthropology and Environmental Studies programmes at Yale-NUS College are delighted to host Eben Kirksey for a talk titled “Becoming Wild: The Monkeys of Florida’s Silver River.” Dr Kirksey is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at the University of New South Wales and is considered a leading thinker in the field of environmental humanities.

Dr Kirksey is credited with pioneering a cutting-edge methodology called multispecies ethnography that applies traditional anthropological methods to the study of spaces in which humans and other species interact. He studies spaces in which the boundaries between natural and cultural worlds have become blurred, and his work transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, mixing ethnographic, ethological, historical and genetic methods. He is the editor of a collection titled The Multispecies Salon (Duke, 2014) which brought together biologists, artists, and anthropologists to explore the ways in which different organisms become enmeshed in cultural and political systems. The Multispecies Salon was also a multi-city art exhibit. He is the author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power (Duke, 2012) and, most recently, Emergent Ecologies (Duke, 2015).

Dr Kirksey’s talk will focus on his recent research, which involved studying monkeys (rhesus macaques) living in the wild on the banks of the Silver River in Florida. Suspected to have originally escaped from the sets of Tarzan movies shot in the 1980s, the monkeys rapidly spread all over Florida, generating significant controversy on account of disagreements on their right to remain in the space. While some organizations believed that the monkeys should be captured and eradicated, others argued for the monkeys’ right to life. In addition to following the controversy in the state legislature and national media, Dr Kirksey employed place-based ethnographic and ethnoprimatological methods to observe how the monkeys interacted with other species, including humans, in Silver River. The talk promises to be a fascinating exploration of interspecies dynamics and will shed light on how the monkeys are entangled in complex political, social, and ecological systems.

The talk will take place at 5:00 PM on 31 January in Global Learning Room 2.