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© German Primate Center / Photo: Kurt Hammerschmidt

Primatologist and Grüter Prize winner Julia Fischer to deliver Centre lecture

31.10.2013 7th Käte Hamburger Lecture, 12 November 2013
One week after the award ceremony for the Grüter Prize for Science Communication, this year’s winner, Professor Julia Fischer, will be coming to Duisburg to give a presentation of her laboratory- and field-work, and to discuss this with interested specialists and members of the public as part of the 7th Käte Hamburger Lecture. In her talk, entitled ‘Tolerance and Cooperation in Primate Society’‚ Professor Fischer, Head of the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory at the German Primate Centre in Göttingen, will begin by explaining how primates form complex social groups and, within these, develop a variety of cooperation, cognition, and communication skills. She will then ask what significance our knowledge of these skills may have for our understanding of human cooperation.

Explaining their decision to award Professor Fischer the prize, the Grüter judges described her as someone who ‘combines excellence in research with a determination to bring science to a broader public, recognizing this as one of the fundamental tasks of active research’. Professor Fischer is therefore an ideal choice for the Käte Hamburger Lecture, the aim of which is to facilitate an exchange of views about the Centre’s major research themes with both the academic community and the wider public.

Professor Fischer was awarded the prize for ‘her contribution to popular science’, notably her book Affengesellschaft (‘Primate Society’—published in 2012 by Suhrkamp). Besides a number of interesting glimpses of her field work, the book offers a highly readable account of the social structures, thought-processes, and modes of communication of our nearest relatives.

Non-human primates have an astonishing repertoire of social interactions: they live as relatives, friends, and couples, and, hierarchically speaking, they know where and to whom they belong. As part of these processes, they build up a fund of social knowledge and a framework of collective behaviour—though of course conflicts also occur. One of the central questions posed in Professor Fischer’s lecture will be: Is it possible to talk of cooperation amongst non-human primates and what can observation of non-human primates teach us about human social behaviour?

The 7th Käte Hamburger Lecture will be chaired by Professor Claus Leggewie, Co-director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) in Essen. At the end of the lecture, audience members will be invited to contribute their views to the discussion of the many different forms of co-existence in the non-human primate world and of the parallels with human society.


Time: 11.00 - 12.30h
Venue: H2Office, Schifferstraße 196, 47059 Duisburg

Please note, the Lecture will be held in German.
As space at the venue is limited, we would be grateful if you could register in advance at: events@spam

The Grüter Foundation was set up in 1994 by the physician and natural scientist Professor Werner Grüter and his wife Inge. One of the ways in which it promotes science communication—especially in the fields of evolution, paleontology, and biology (particularly marine biology and botany)—is through the award of an annual prize. The prize has a value of 10,000 Euros and is awarded for work published in the German-speaking area. The award ceremony for Professor Fischer will take place on 4 November at the Man and Nature Museum in the Nymphenburg Palace, Munich.

Martin Wolf
Head of Public Relations
Tel: +49 (0)203 379 5238