BIG NEWS: First Neuroanthropology Conference!

We’ve hinted at this, but now it’s confirmed: the first Neuroanthropology Conference will be held 8 October 2009 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Daniel and I are very pleased to be able to announce, ‘The Encultured Brain: Neuroanthropological Explorations.’ We’ll have lots of news and information, including how to register and get involved, coming soon, but we wanted to post notice of the upcoming conference as soon as possible so that you can have a chance to pencil it into your calendars.

Update: You can now go to our official announcement, including details on submitting abstracts and registering.

Due to generous support from the Lemelson/Society for Psychological Anthropology Conference Fund as well as the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Graduate School, and the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, this will be a bargain of a conference, registration fees basically coming back to you immediately in the form of eats and drinks.

Graphic from NYTimes, by Yarek Waszul
Graphic from NYTimes, by Yarek Waszul
One main part of the schedule will facilitate a kind of collective brain-storming, make connections (both mental and practical) meeting, rather than the standard anthropology panel set-up, where just a few people present 15 minute versions of their research.

We will have two keynote presentations, as well as a lot of ‘speed presentations’ in which participants will be able to briefly (about five minutes) talk to the whole assembled conference about what they are working on or would like to work on. We will have pre-printed message pads to allow the whole conference to share thoughts, as well as ample chances during breaks to grab the person you just heard share a great idea. Think of it as intellectual speed dating, in which a larger percentage of conference participants get to talk to the whole conference, rather than just to the small group that choose to attend your session.

There will also be an ongoing poster session for presenters so that we really get an opportunity to network in this emerging area of research. So much of what we hope to do is to create conversations over the fences that separate our respective disciplinary backyards, so we’re going to do our best to get people in touch. There will also be a roundtable on research methods for breaking new ground in neuroanthropology.

In addition, we’ll have keynote lectures by — drum roll, please — Prof. Patricia Greenfield of UCLA and Prof. Harvey Whitehouse of Oxford University. [Fixed that link…] We’re going to have profiles posted on both keynote speakers in the near future, but suffice to say that Prof. Greenfield is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UCLA, heavily involved in (and former Director of) the FPR-UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development as well as the current Director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles (CDMCLA). I won’t even try to summarize her long record of interesting research on the brain, psychology, cross-cultural variation, child development, education, and media (I’ll try that in a later post, unless I can talk Daniel into it), but if you want a jump start, her website has 16 of her papers available.

Prof. Harvey Whitehouse of the University of Oxford is also Head of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at Oxford, Head of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA), Director of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind (CAM), and a Fellow of Magdalen College. Although he has written widely on religion, evolution, and his ethnographic research in Papua New Guinea, of late he has been one of the leaders in integrating cognitive, evolutionary, and anthropological research in Europe, especially on the subject of religion. Again, if you want to get the jump on our profiles, there’s a substantial list of his books and other publications available at the ISCA website.

We will also be having a number of invited guests, whom we’ll introduce as we get confirmations. This is just the first announcement, and we’ll be posting more soon, including registration information.

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Trained as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, I have gone on to do fieldwork in Brazil and the United States. I have written one book, Learning Capoeira: Lessons in Cunning from an Afro-Brazilian Art (Oxford, 2005). I have also co-authored and co-edited several, 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 neuroanthropology, psychological anthropology, sport, dance, human rights, neuroscience, phenomenology, economic anthropology, and just about anything else that catches my attention.

5 thoughts on “BIG NEWS: First Neuroanthropology Conference!

    1. We’re working on it, Laurence, we’re working on it! The learning curve on this Internet-based academic-ish blogging is steep and the air gets thin quickly…

      Seriously, we’ve got some money in the budget for videotaping, especially the keynotes; I’ve got a bit of experience editing; and we’ll figure out some way and some virtual ‘place’ to put up the video and link to it. So, yes, expect some posting of video even if we’re not going to threaten the people at the TED conferences.

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