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MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

Monkey Troubles: Confronting Control in Contemporary Singapore

Tildelt: kr 2,3 mill.






2024 - 2026


Monkey Troubles is a comparative ethnography of control in human-monkey interactions and in the worship of a monkey deity in Singapore. It investigates how everyday interspecies and ritual encounters prompt ordinary Singaporeans to reflect on what control is, who has it, and how these ideas shape Singaporean relationships with other species and the environment. The study deploys an interdisciplinary approach grounded in anthropology, religious studies, and the environmental humanities to comparatively analyse the diverse understandings and practices of control that take place in everyday interactions with monkeys and a monkey deity. The project approaches these encounters as parallel interactive contexts in which humans struggle to interpret the ultimately opaque intentions of non-human others through communicative cues, including gesture, facial expression, posture, and gaze direction. The many uncertainties raised by these encounters make them key sites in which people generate ideas about the limits of human control, with critical implications for Singaporean attitudes toward wildlife management, conservation, and environmental governance. The project demonstrates that control is a culturally diverse and multispecies phenomenon that is decisively shaped by how people interpret the limitations of human control when interacting with more-than-human others. It also serves as a ground-breaking model for applying interaction analysis to other situations dealing with nonhuman entities such as religious studies and multispecies studies.


MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)