Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Trudy R. Turner

Committee Members

Benjamin Campbell, Tracey Heatherington, Emily Latch, Changshan Wu

Keywords

Environmental Anthropology, Ethnoprimatology, Geographic Information Systems, Human-Primate Conflict, Primate Crop Raiding, Vervet Monkey

Abstract

Over 350 years ago, the ecology of St. Kitts was dramatically altered by the advent of sugar cane production and the introduction of a highly adaptable, invasive animal species: the vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus). This project employed both primatological and ethnoprimatological techniques to assess conflict between vervet monkeys and Kittitian farmers. Methodological tools from primatology allowed for the creation of a predictive model of monkey crop-raiding behavior. The model was highly informative about monkeys' current raiding patterns; however, viewing Kittitian farmers and vervet monkeys as interconnected through an ethnoprimatological perspective revealed the significance of history with regard to this conflict. Land use patterns associated with the closure of the sugar cane industry in 2005 have significantly increased the interconnections between humans and primates. The ethnographic data showed that monkeys' increasing visibility has played a large role in Kittitians' cultural conceptualizations of vervet monkeys and the unique nature of pestilence discourse on monkeys in St. Kitts. The ethnographic data also showed that a third level of analysis was necessary for a robust understanding of the St. Kitts "monkey problem": an assessment of the complex relationship between Kittitian farmers and the land on which they work. There is a unique human-environment relationship in St. Kitts due to the political repercussions of the island's colonial history - most farmers do not own their land. This case study serves as an example of how ethnoprimatological investigations can be informed well by the theories and methods of environmental anthropology.