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A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology

ISBN: 978-1-4443-9492-4
624 pages
February 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology (1444394924) cover image
A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology offers a comprehensive overview of the development of cognitive anthropology from its inception to the present day and presents recent findings in the areas of theory, methodology, and field research in twenty-nine key essays by leading scholars.
  • Demonstrates the importance of cognitive anthropology as an early constituent of the cognitive sciences
  •   Examines how culturally shared and complex cognitive systems work, how they are structured, how they differ from one culture to another, how they are learned and passed on
  • Explains how cultural (or collective) vs. individual knowledge distinguishes cognitive anthropology from cognitive psychology
  • Examines recent theories and methods for studying cognition in real-world scenarios
  • Contains twenty-nine key essays by leading names in the field
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Notes on Contributors.



Part I: History of Cognitive Anthropology and the nature and types of Cultural Knowledge Structures.

1. A History of Cognitive Anthropology (B. G. Blount).

2. The History of the Cultural Models School Reconsidered: A Paradigm Shift in Cognitive Anthropology (Naomi Quinn). 

3. The Cognitive Context of Cognitive Anthropology (Jürg Wassmann, Christian Kluge, and Dominik Albrecht).

4. The Limits of the Habitual: Shifting Paradigms for Language and Thought (Janet Dixon Keller).

5. Types of Collective Representations: Cognition, Mental Architecture, and Cultural Knowledge (Giovanni Bennardo and David B. Kronenfeld).

 6. Personal Knowledge and Collective Representations (John B. Gatewood).

Part II: Methodologies.

7. Methods of Data Collection (W. Penn Handwerker).

8. Data, Method, and Interpretation in Cognitive Anthropology (James Boster).

9. Multi-item Scales and Cognitive Ethnography (Kateryna Maltseva and Roy D'Andrade).

10. Consensus Analysis (Stephen P. Borgatti and Daniel S. Halgin).

11. Narrative, Mind, and Culture (Benjamin N. Colby).

12. Simulation (and Modeling) (Michael Fischer and David B. Kronenfeld).

Part III: Cognitive Structures of Cultural Domains.

13. Mathematical Representation of Cultural Constructs (Dwight Read).

14. Kinship Theory and Cognitive Theory in Anthropology (F. K. L. Chit Hlaing (F. K. Lehman).

15. Numerical Cognition and Ethnomathematics (Andrea Bender and Sieghard Beller).

16. 'Indigenous knowledge' and the Understanding of Cultural Cognition: The Contribution of Studies of Environmental Knowledge Systems (Roy Ellen).

17. Emotions, Motivation, and Behavior in Cognitive Anthropology (E. N. Anderson).

18. Social Networks, Cognition, and Culture (Douglas R. White).

Part IV: Cognitive Anthropology and other Disciplines.

19. Culture and Cognition: The Role of Cognitive Anthropology in Anthropology and the Cognitive Science (Norbert Ross and Douglas L. Medin).

20. Cultural Models, Power, and Hegemony (Halvard Vike).

21. Cognitive Anthropology Through a Gendered Lens (Carol C. Mukhopadhyay).

22. Sociality in Cognitive and Sociocultural Anthropologies: The Relationships aren't Just Additive (Lynn Thomas).

23. Cognitive Anthropology and Education: Foundational Models of Self and Cultural Models of Teaching and Learning in Japan and the United States (Hidetada Shimizu).

24. Archaeological Approaches to Cognitive Evolution (Miriam Noël Haidle).

Part V: Some Examples of Contemporary Research.

25. Dots, Sprinkles, and Flecks: Sonar Talk and the Distributed Cognition Model of Mind (Brian Hazlehurst).

26. A Foundational Cultural Model in Polynesia: Monarchy, Democracy, and the Architecture of the Mind (Giovanni Bennardo).

27. Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Romantic Love: Semantic, Cross-Cultural, and as a Process (Victor C. de Munck).

28. Trouble as Part of Everyday Life: Cognitive and Sociocultural Processes in Avoiding and Responding to Illness (Linda Garro).

29. Cultural Models of "Benign Senescent Forgetfulness" vs. Alzheimer's Disease: A Consensus Analysis of Three U.S. Ethnic Groups (Robert W. Schrauf and Madelyn Iris).

Afterward: One Cognitive View of Culture (David B. Kronenfeld).


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David B. Kronenfeld is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Riverside and is the author of numerous books, including Culture, Society, and Cognition: Collective Goals, Values, Action, and Knowledge (2008).

Giovanni Bennardo is Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of three books, most recently Language, Space, and Social Relationships: A Foundational Cultural Model in Polynesia (2009).

Michael D. Fischer is Professor of Anthropological Sciences at the University of Kent and has written Applications in Computing for Social Anthropologists (1994).

Victor de Munck is Associate Professor of Anthropology at State University New York, New Paltz, and is the author of numerous publications, including Research Design and Methods for Studying Cultures (2009).

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“In elucidating tensions between individual and collective, between idiosyncratic and commonplace, between the social, cultural, and environmental, and between the evolutionary and situational, cognitive anthropology emerges as a significant component of studying human being, and this volume provides a useful anthology and snapshot.”  (Journal of the Royal Astronomical Institute, 1 May 2013)

“The fact that reading through these essays got me thinking about the amazing range of research areas that could now be considered part of "cognitive anthropology" is a testament both to the provocative value of this volume and the vitality of the sub-discipline of cognitive anthropology it is helping to re-imagine.”  (Ethos, 1 February 2013)


"The sheer vibrancy of modern cognitive anthropology is brilliantly reflected in this Companion. The development of the field since the early days of ethnoscience is as refreshing as it is remarkable." 
Brent Berlin, University of Georgia


"A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology is an outstanding collection of papers covering a range of topics that accurately reflect current trends and major emphases in anthropologically informed studies of cognition."
Steven Tyler, Rice University


"A rich treasure-house of science-based anthropology."
Margaret Boden, University of Sussex


"Read this good companion to find out what cultural anthropology contributes to the cognitive science agenda.  Are there scientific methods for discovering what people know and how they think by virtue of ethnic ancestry and cultural inheritance?  Read these essays and find out."
Richard A. Shweder, University of Chicago

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