'Beyond Description’ and ‘Ecologies of Mind’: Reflections on Anthropological Knowledge
Wednesday 29th November 2023
The Department of Anthropology is delighted to announce an afternoon of events focussed on anthropological knowledge practices, disciplinary epistemology, and the ways in which anthropologists imagine the nature of their contribution to contemporary challenges like global mental health.
Edited by Paolo Heywood and Matei Candea, this volume brings anthropologists and other social scientists together to combine ethnographic studies of explanatory practices in a range of contemporary contexts with reflection on the status of explanation as a practice in ethnographic writing. The launch will feature a panel discussion with contributors to the book: Professor Tanya Luhrmann, Professor Matei Candea, Professor Tom Yarrow, Dr Adam Reed, and Dr Paolo Heywood, and is planned to include an Introduction by Michael Carrithers, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Durham.
‘Ecologies of Mind’ Revisited: Nature, Culture, and Mental Health in the 21st Century’
Our annual Robert Layton Dialogue celebrates what anthropology can bring to understanding human life past, present and future by integrating or juxtaposing methods, questions and areas of enquiry across disciplinary sub-fields. This year’s theme invites leading scholars in the sub-fields of social and evolutionary anthropology to reflect on the ways in which we theorize the relationships between mind and environment. In his 1972 book Steps to an Ecology of Mind, anthropologist Gregory Bateson made the case for a conceptualization of “mind” that transcends the individual organism. Mind, he argued, is immanent in pathways and flows of information outside the body, and thus, in wider social and biological ecosystems. This Dialogue invites scholars to consider the relevance of Bateson’s “ecology of mind” in making sense of climbing rates of mental distress and disorder in the world today. The first two decades of the 21st century have seen distinctive threats both to mental wellbeing and to natural ecosystems globally. From discussions of “climate anxiety” to a burgeoning interest in “green social prescribing,” the relationships among nature, culture, and mental health are being thought in new ways. How might Bateson’s work aid us in understanding and responding to surging mental dis-ease in the present moment? And how might a closer look at contemporary ecologies of mind throw new light on long-running anthropological debates about the nature of mental illness?
Professor Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University
Professor Daniel Nettle, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Dr Anjana Bala, London School of Economics
Dr Anna Stenning, Durham University
Professor Rob Barton, Durham University
For further information, please contact Kate Payne (firstname.lastname@example.org)