Return to Bibliography
Haraway, Donna. Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge, 1989.
In Primate Visions biologist and University of California, Santa Cruz History of Consciousness professor Donna Haraway maps primate studies over the course of history and across the boundaries of several disciplines. She begins with early twentieth century, European male researchers studying within the framework of “Naturalists”, moves on to cultural research among whom were women and non-Euro-Americans, and finally, she examines the fictional narratives of primates that appear in feminist science fiction. From the outset, Haraway clearly denies any attempt to present a non-biased or objective study of the intellectual history of primate studies. She includes anti-racist, anti-colonial, pro-feminist, and pro-animal rights issues in her list of personally influential discourses. Many reviewers of Primate Visions for scientific journals dislike the book because these political interests were so influential in its shaping; however, reviewers for cultural studies journals find Haraway’s reflexive examination of the field of primatology fascinating and enlightening. Although narrative threads run throughout the book, each chapter can stand alone, and the many illustrations included in the book (such as a Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson and news photographs of the primates who participated in the Mercury rocket launches) are amazing. Primate Visions may not please all academics because of its treatment of specific cultural institutions, but it draws together an astoundingly diverse combination of discourses from a variety of academic fields. [K. Park]