Distributed Cognition, Research Design, Globalization,
Society for Anthropological Sciences
Concurrent with the American Anthropological Association conference in New Orleans...
8:30 to 5:45 - Friday, November 22, 2002 at the Drury Inn and Suites
9:00 to 11:00 - Saturday, November 23, 2002 at the Drury Inn and Suites
CULTURAL STRUCTURES & DISTRIBUTED COGNITION
Chairs: David Kronenfeld, Dwight Read
Friday - 8:30 am to 3:00 pm
NSF... RESEARCH DESIGN & METHODS
Chair: Timothy J. Benner
Friday - 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
THE END OF POLITICAL GLOBALIZATION?
Chair: Robert Graber
Friday - 4:00 pm to 5:45 pm
now is the time to replace rhetoric with action.
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STRUCTURES & DISTRIBUTED COGNITION
Organizers: David Kronenfeld and Dwight Read
Recent advances in three areas of cognitive anthropology have reawakened interest in cognitive anthropology and in the role that cognitive structures might play in wider considerations of culture and cultural theory. Essential to these wider issues is our sense that culture and society are mutually constitutive. On the one hand, cultural knowledge is a property of groups of people rather than of particular individuals (even though actually held by individuals), and society is made up of the various networks and groupings. On the other hand, culture is best represented as the shared knowledge (including the behavior and objects produced by and interpreted via that knowledge) that enables individuals in groups to act and to be recognized as group members-and thus that enables groups to act. Culture, in this view, is seen as a system of distributed cognition, and we are interested in exploring the various kinds of social contexts, behaviors, and cognitive structures which make up this system.
New work in the formal modeling of conceptual systems has shown that complex systems of cultural knowledge can be modeled by structures based on relatively simple and well-defined givens. These axioms can account for both the conceptual unity and generative power of the modeled systems. The next task is to extend this formal analytic approach to other systematic knowledge systems, and to see what kinds of formal structures shape these other areas.
Work on cultural models has shown how knowledge, goals, values, emotions, and attitudes combine in the understandings people bring to their interpretation of the actions of others and to theirgeneration of their own behavior. We need now to clarify the distinction between the actively and continually constructed individual knowledge structures (schemas) of particular actors and the more stable shared cultural structures of the collectivity. Such clarification will help elucidate the properties of shared structures that enable-and/or follow from-their being shared and that enable them to relate systematically to individual instantiations. We need to develop productive formal computational representations of shared structures that can be used to simulate (and experiment on) behavioral outcomes and their interpretation. We expect that effective computational models of cultural models will eventually lead to more rigorous mathematical representations.
New kinds of data and analyses on the social networks in which both shared and variable knowledge is distributed show that principles of behavior which shape the construction of social networks-while often not explicitly labeled-can be recovered from behavioral data and often are found to be linguistically or symbolically cued. This approach offers a new perspective on how culture and cognition are linked with behavioral variabilities in different social contexts. It shows closer links between social organization and cognition than hitherto recognized-and provides new understandings about how consciously formulated cultural rules exist side-by-side with a very different set of social organizational principles that are emergent from behavior.
Friday: 8: 30 - 11:30 AM
Cultural Structures and Distributed Cognition
Session 1: Analytic Approaches
Chair David Kronenfeld
Friday Friday: 11:30 - 1:00 PM
Friday 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Cultural Structures and Distributed Cognition
Session 2: Ethnographic Cases for Potential Formalization. Cultural Structures and Distributed Cognition
Chair: Dwight Read
The NSF SUMMER INSTITUTE
for RESEARCH DESIGN & METHODS in CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Chair: Timothy J. Benner
Discussant: Jeffrey C. Johnson
Friday 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Since the summer of 1996 the National Science Foundation has sponsored the Summer Institute for Research Design in Cultural Anthropology to provide Ph.D. students in cultural anthropology with a basic understanding of the link between theory and scientific methodology in cultural anthropology, to improve a student's ability to develop and write a scientifically well conceived research proposal, and to provide students with basic scientific research knowledge and skills for solving a variety of research design problems. The institute's content covers a broad spectrum of research design issues with a heavy emphasis on the link between theory and method. Topics covered include: (1) the link between theory and the development of research objectives, concepts, definitions, variables, measures, and hypotheses; (2) research design and threats to validity; (3) the relationship between quantitative and qualitative approaches within the ethnographic context; (4) systematic data collection procedures; (5) probability and non-probability sampling; (6) statistical distributions and elementary data analysis with an emphasis on concepts (e.g., sampling distribution theory); (7) introduction to data structures and management in both a qualitative and quantitative context; (8) text and narrative data collection and analysis; (9) hypothesis testing using both qualitative and quantitative data; and (10) research proposal development. Students who have attended the Summer Institute have been highly successful in obtaining funding from a variety of sources. This session will provide examples of research conducted by participants after attending the institute, using methods covered during the program from a variety of the topics mentioned above. The papers will be methodological in nature and emphasize the links between research methods, theory and hypothesis testing.
THE END OF POLITICAL
GLOBALIZATION? IMAGINING & PREDICTING A WORLD STATE
Chair: Robert Graber
Friday 4:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Visionaries long have imagined a world politically unified, warfare a thing of the past. "Till the war drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled / In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world," wrote Tennyson in 1842. But is the image an illusion? Imagining a planet groaning under the press of human numbers, the same poet wrote fifty years later, "Warless? When her tens are thousands, and her thousands millions, then-- / All her harvest all too narrow--who can fancy warless men?" Yet the nuclear age's sages well have imagined that if we do not put an end to war, war will put an end to us; and so it appears nearly to have done scarcely four decades ago. Our ability to imagine extinction rather than a world state, however, scarcely entails inability to predict the latter. In view of how interesting and important to us the political future is, and of the undeniable continuing improvements in relevant data, methods, and theory, one might expect a virtual social-scientific industry to have grown up devoted to its prediction. The reality, however, scarcely could be more different. Few indeed were the social scientists--chiefly anthropologists (inspired by sociologist Hornell Hart), interestingly enough--who in the latter 20th century began hazarding such predictions. First was Naroll in 1967, who used long-term increase in geographic extent of empires to predict a world state within 400 years. A refinement of this approach by Marano in 1973, however, while not ruling out such a possibility, provided grounds for believing that from 1,500 to 4,400 years might be required. By contrast, Carneiro in 1978 concluded, from an inspection of the accelerating long-term decrease in the total number of autonomous political units, that a world state "must be a matter of centuries or even decades." This session revisits and extends these pioneering efforts. Melvin Ember leads off by reaffirming, with new archaeological data, that cultural evolution, including its political aspect, exhibits long-term directional trends. Amber Johnson bridges from this general point to the session's specific concern by considering the conditions under which global governing bodies might be expected to organize, and the likelihood of such organizations meeting the definitional criteria of statehood. Next, Robert Carneiro, after quoting luminaries who have foreseen a world state, addresses not only the projections offered by Naroll, Marano, and himself, but also the factors that foster state formation; a major issue discussed is the imaginability, given warfare's prominence in past political evolution, of a world state's evolving peacefully. Robert Graber then uses population-pressure theory--Tennyson to the contrary--to offer predictions based on theoretical mathematical relationships rather than on time-series extrapolations alone. Finally, Paul Roscoe contextualizes political "units and unification" by reflecting on the implications, for those who would forecast planetary globalization, of complexities bound up with the concept of power and with the multi-dimensionality of globalization itself.
The SOCIETY for ANTHROPOLOGICAL
Chair: Stuart Plattner
Saturday 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
The Society for Anthropological Sciences (SAS) is being formed to promote empirical research and social science in anthropology. The members of SAS want to further the development of anthropological science as empirical knowledge based on testable theory, sound research design and systematic methods for the collection and analysis of data. We seek to fulfill the historic mission of anthropology to describe and explain the range of variation in human biology, society and culture across time and space.
The impetus for the SAS was the rejection of several symposia from the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in fall 2002. An Internet discussion arose, facilitated by the creation of the anthro-science listserve (email@example.com). The discussion focused on the dissatisfaction felt by many colleagues with the anti-science bias of much contemporary anthropology. The participants decided to organize a "Salon des RefusÚs"* (http://hcs.ucla.edu/new-orleans-2002/) to kick off the creation of a new society whose focus would be on scientific work. The nature and function of the SAS will be discussed at an open meeting 9:00-11:00 AM at the Drury Hotel, adjacent to the AAA meetings in New Orleans, Saturday November 23, 2002.
At our Saturday meeting we will discuss the issues that have been mentioned on our listserve. We should not make any decisions there except to set up formal votes through the web site, after the AAA meeting, since many members will not be able to attend the Drury meeting.
To subscribe to the list-serve "Anthro-Sciences" contact Michael Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The original Salon des RefusÚs occurred in Paris in 1863 when a group of artists organized their own show after being rejected by the official Academy Salon.