Bri Matusovsky

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, San Francisco, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10705

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Matusovsky, Bri (California, San Francisco, U. of) "The Monkey Problem of St. Kitts: An Exploration of Problematization in Multi-Species Ethnography"

The green monkeys (Chlorocebus Sabaeus) are considered invasive pests on the island of St. Kitts, introduced as a by-product of trans-Atlantic slave trade, and now differently valued in scientific research, tourism, and conservationism. The increasing frequency of encounters between humans and monkeys, and related food insecurity experienced by both humans and monkeys, combine to create what is known locally on St. Kitts as “the monkey problem.” Tracing the relationships with the monkey problem among scientists, farmers, trappers, and representatives from animal rights organizations, environmental conservation agencies, and the tourism industry, I will explore what anthropologists have argued is a fragile divide between humans and animals. Using a multi-species ethnographic approach, my research will investigate the role of race in shaping human experiences of the monkey problem, while emphasizing that green monkeys are socially and politically important actors also living through the afterlives of colonial violence. My research will contribute to anthropological understandings of human power structures and hierarchies in relation to constructions of race(-ism) and species(-ism) on St. Kitts, in the Caribbean, and potentially beyond. As such, my research frames multi-species justice as contingent on advocacy for both humans and animals struggling against growing social and ecological precarity.