Anthropomorphising Apes in Visual Culture: A Tool to Deconstruct the Animal-Human Binary? Mary-Laine Friday (2015)
Anthropomorphism, broadly defined as the ascription of uniquely human characteristics onto nonhuman others, is heavily stigmatised in Western epistemology. Consistent efforts are directed towards policing borders between human and animal and, as such, anthropomorphism is seen as an inaccurate means of both understanding and representing nonhuman animals. Marred with this negative reputation, anthropomorphism is also often dismissed as counterproductive in the deconstruction of animal-human dualism. However straddling the mythic border between human and animal, the anthropomorphisation of nonhuman apes – the prototypical anthropomorphous animal – is argued to represent a unique opportunity to engender a sensibility of animality which avoids the bifurcation of human and nonhuman. Anthropomorphic representations of apes are ubiquitous throughout history and across cultures, and continue to pervade Western visual culture in the modern day, seen in mediums such as contemporary photography, fine art and advertisement. This literature review , situated theoretically in the interdisciplinary fields of science and technology studies, visual studies and anthropology, turns to examine these mediums in order to evaluate whether anthropomorphised apes in visual culture might function as a useful means of problematising the animal-human dualism. It is hoped that this will make space for a posthuman animality which conceives human and nonhuman animals non-hierarchically.
Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences