Who Knows What About Gorillas? Indigenous Knowledge, Global Justice, and Human-Gorilla Relations

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Adam Pérou Hermans Amir


The gorillas of Africa are known around the world, but African stories ofgorillas are not. Indigenous knowledge of gorillas is almost entirely absent fromthe global canon. The absence of African accounts reflects a history of colonialexclusion, inadequate opportunity, and epistemic injustice. Discountingindigenous knowledge limits understanding of gorillas and creates challengesfor justifying gorilla conservation. To be just, conservation efforts must beendorsed by those most affected: the indigenous communities neighboringgorilla habitats. As indigenous ways of knowing are underrepresented in thevery knowledge from which conservationists rationalize their efforts, adequatejustification will require seeking out and amplifying African knowledge ofgorillas. In engaging indigenous knowledge, outsiders must reflect on their ownways of knowing and be open to a dramatically different understanding. In thecontext of gorillas, this means learning other ways to know the apes andindigenous knowledge in order to inform and guide modern relationshipsbetween humans and gorillas.

Article Details

Peer Reviewed
Author Biography

Adam Pérou Hermans Amir, Florida State University

Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Postdoctoral Associate

Filmmaker, Several Pictures


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