Daniel interviewed at Scientific American

Daniel should flag it, but he might not out of a fear of self-promotion (I have no such qualms), so I’m going to post a link to an interview that our own Daniel Lende did with Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters at Scientific American: Getting Hooked on Sin. Daniel discusses some of the general principles, but he also gives an accessible introduction to the work he’s been doing on addiction (see his recent postings here, Wanting to Craving: Understanding Compulsive Involvement with Drugs and Craving and Compulsive Involvement Scales, for more on that subject). As the subtitle describes: ‘A neuroanthropologist explains what Colombian teenagers can teach neuroscientists about addiction.’ Well worth checking out in the original, even if some of the comments get WAAAAY off the point with a discussion of ‘sin.’

It’s interesting: anthropologists have little problem switching between indigenous (emic) concepts used by our informants, and our own analytical constructs. Perhaps because we’re not overly attached to either, we don’t really feel a strong need to defend any particular set of theoretical constructs (well, some of us don’t, at least). For example, when I taught ‘anthropological theory’ to majors, one of the crucial points was that, depending on one’s analytical perspective, a different set of theoretical constructs made sense — outside that framework, the theoretical terms often lost a lot of their usefulness. So I have no trouble when Daniel switches to talking about ‘sin’; in fact, as a (mostly) recovered Catholic, it’s like a welcome switch to my native tongue. But clearly, not everyone reading Scientific American is quite as willing to work in a sort of agnostic discussion space…

Great to see Daniel getting his ideas out there in all sorts of places — I’ve always liked Scientific American’s Mind & Brain site. Hopefully, he’ll continue to fill out more of his thinking on the neuroanthropological dimensions of addiction. Looking forward to San Francisco for the American Anthropology Association.

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gregdowney

Trained as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, I have gone on to do fieldwork in Brazil and the United States, and look forward to a new project in New Zealand. I have written one book, Learning Capoeira: Lessons in Cunning from an Afro-Brazilian Art (Oxford, 2005). I have also co-edited several books, including, with Dr. Daniel Lende, The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology (MIT, 2012), and with Dr. Melissa Fisher, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (Duke, 2006). My research interests include psychological anthropology, sport, dance, human rights, neuroscience, phenomenology, economic anthropology, and just about anything else that catches my attention.

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