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VIENNA HUMANITIES FESTIVAL

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PROGRAMM

WHAT SHOULD HUMANS LEARN FROM PRIMATES?

ISABEL BEHNCKE IN CONVERSATION WITH MISHA GLENNY
SAMSTAG, 28.09. 2024 / 12h30

AKADEMIE DER BILDENDEN KÜNSTE WIEN, AULA

In an engrossing conversation with IWM Rector MISHA GLENNY, ISABEL BEHNCKE explains why recreational sex and play are essential tools in managing complex societies. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of our primate cousins (never tell her we are descended from apes—we are apes!), Behncke explains why our two closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, have developed very different strategies to solve communal problems. Whereas chimpanzees have a patriarchal system that relies on violent conflict to ensure territorial integrity, bonobos developed a matriarchal hierarchy that emphasizes play and peaceful resolution. Humans have evolved by deploying both these strategies, and the panel will focus on why playfulness could hold the key to our survival.

 

ISABEL BEHNCKE is a Chilean primatologist who walked 3,000 miles with a troop of bonobos to study their society and, in particular, their approaches to conflict resolution, sex and play. She is the director of the Centro de Estudios Públicos, and she served as advisor to the Chilean government. Behncke divides her time between Oxford, New York and Santiago. In Chile, she has embarked on a monumental project to rewild an entire mountain.

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