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Wild Man from BorneoA Cultural History of the Orangutan$
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Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824837143

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824837143.001.0001

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Faces in the Mirror

Faces in the Mirror

Evolution, Intelligence, and Rights

(p.232) 10 Faces in the Mirror
Wild Man from Borneo

Robert Cribb

Helen Gilbert

Helen Tiffin

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter asserts that for four centuries, the West has been fascinated by the orangutan. So similar to humans, yet with so many differences, the red ape has challenged them to think about the nature of humanity and the character of human relationships with the animal world. As knowledge of the orangutan has developed, and as scientific understanding of biological processes has grown, the specific challenge presented by the orangutan has also changed. As the preoccupations of human society have changed, literature, theater, film, and other cultural productions have likewise reflected on the orangutan in different ways. Yet many of the concerns the orangutan raised in the minds of Western observers in the seventeenth century are remarkably persistent. For example, Richard Owen argued that although there were similarities of anatomical structure between humans and great apes, those similarities were analogous rather than homologous.

Keywords:   orangutan, scientific understanding, humanity, Western observers, Richard Owen, red ape

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