Nathaniel Otjen

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Nathaniel Otjen is currently getting his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Studies, and Policy at the University of Oregon. He received a grant for a research project called “Becoming a Troop Member: Feminist Primatology, Self-Narration, and the Politics of Care.” This project examines the field notes, correspondence, and paper drafts of four feminist primatologists in order to better understand how these scientists positioned themselves as members of primate troops and to explain how their feminist objectivity encouraged later researchers and writers to advocate for human-animal relationships. This grant has been co-funded by the Animals & Society Institute (ASI). He writes:

My project examines the fieldnotes, correspondence, and paper drafts of Goodall, Fossey, Galdikas, and Smuts to better understand how these primatologists thought of themselves as members of primate troops and to explain how their feminist scientific objectivity led later researchers and writers to promote animal advocacy, particularly the well-being of animals. I am interested in how these primatologists wrote about their interactions with chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and baboons. As such, this project asks: How have feminist primatologists narrated the self in relation to other members of the troop? The findings from this research will shed light on how contemporary scientists and writers see themselves as members of various animal communities who support mutual well-being.