Department or Program

Environmental Studies


Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who worked in the 1960's-80's in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda studying Mountain Gorilla behavior. While Fossey had no formal training in primatology or field research, her work became revolutionary in understanding primate behavior. The second half of her career (until her death in 1985) focused on Mountain Gorilla conservation and anti-poaching efforts. Her work was funded and made famous by National Geographic Magazine which subsequently played an influential role in her lasting legacy. I begin by taking a particularly critical lens on the discipline of primatology, using the scholarship of Donna Haraway. I then trace Fossey's career as well as portrayals and stereotypes of gorillas across time and cultures. I conclude by analyzing Fossey's legacy and the current state of Mountain Gorilla conservation in the Virunga Mountains. I examine the impact of Mountain Gorilla tourism and how the industry may be considered a means for transboundary communication and peace building between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Jane Costlow

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file.


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.