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Durham University

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Publication details

Radford, Lucy Alexander, Sherrie & Waters, Sian (2018). On the rocks: using discourse analysis to examine relationships between Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) and people on Gibraltar. Folia Primatologica 89(1): 30-44.

Author(s) from Durham


Primates are difficult to categorise due to some of the human-like characteristics they possess. Here, we examine the complexities that exist in a commensal relationship between an introduced population of Barbary macaques and local human populations on Gibraltar. In Western culture, much has been done to recognise primates' human characteristics while simultaneously focusing on keeping them at a metaphorical distance. In the context of Gibraltar's Barbary macaques, the anomalous status of primates causes a duality of perception whereby the macaques' position makes them both more frustrating and perceived as more worthy of protection. We examine the language used by Gibraltar residents about the macaques, interpreting statements using discourse analysis to reveal the complexities of people's perceptions of the macaques. Our results indicate that Barbary macaques on Gibraltar occupy a perceptual context of internal conflict in which they are viewed both with pride and a sense of ownership as well as with mistrust and fear. The relationship between people and Barbary macaques on Gibraltar is complex, and while sensitisation programmes and awareness-raising efforts exist, we recommend greater collaboration with residents to prevent the development of more intense negative human-macaque interactions.