Feeding Mr Monkey: cross-species food 'exchange' in Japanese monkey parks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Saruyama or ‘monkey mountains’ are popular visitor attractions in Japan. This chapter focuses on visitor feeding of monkeys as the principal form of claimed human—monkey intimacy in the saruyama. It examines the esayari interaction by tracing the different perspectives of the two parties — human and monkey — to it. The chapter considers why esayari is understood as intimacy on the human side. After looking at some of the social anthropological literature on the symbolism of food exchange, the chapter describes actual esayari interactions, using the author's ethnographic observations from a number of the parks. It draws on the work of primatologists to trace the monkey perspective on this interaction in an effort to account for the discrepancy between the ideal of esayari as a kind of cross-species contact and the actuality of monkey aggression and violence. Food exchange tends to have a special character in this context because of the symbolic value of food.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimals in person: cultural perspectives on human-animal intimacies
EditorsJohn Knight
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter11
Pages231-253
ISBN (Electronic)9781003135883
ISBN (Print)9781859737286, 9781859737330
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2005

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