Bezanson, M., Cortés-Ortiz, L., Bicca-Marques, J.C. Boonratana, R, Carvalho, S., Cords, M., de la Torre, S., Hobaiter, C., Humle, T., Izar, P., Lynch, J. W., Matsuzawa, T., Setchell, J. M., Zikusoka, G. K., and Strier, K. B. 2023. News and Perspectives: Words matter in primatology. Primates (2023). . Direct Link to PDF


Postings on social media on Twitter (now X), BioAnthropology News (Facebook), and other venues, as well as recent publications in prominent journals, show that primatologists, ecologists, and other researchers are questioning the terms “Old World” and “New World” due to their colonial implications and history. The terms are offensive if they result in erasing Indigenous voices and history, ignoring the fact that Indigenous peoples were in the Americas long before European colonization. Language use is not without context, but alternative terminology is not always obvious and available. In this perspective, we share opinions expressed by an international group of primatologists who considered questions about the use of these terms, whether primatologists should adjust language use, and how to move forward. The diversity of opinions provides insight into how conventional terms used in primatological research and conservation may impact our effectiveness in these domains.