Commented Shortlist on Culture and Cognition

Agar, Michael / Hobbs, Jerry (1985): How to Grow Schemata Out of Interviews,
In Janet W. D. Dougherty (ed.): Directions in Cognitive Anthropology,
Urbana and Champaign, 413-431
Basic methodology issues for cognitive anthropologists that are rather seldom treated;
based on a simple case study. A useful text for class.
Alverson, Hoyt (1994): Semantics and Experience.
Universal Metaphors of Time in English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Sesotho, Baltimore
A study on human universals in the conceptualization and experience of time that tries
(perhaps not wholly successfully) to integrate phenomenology and cognitive linguistics.
It is based on a four culture sample and a special method using linguistic collocations
as its strongest source of evidence. The theoretical language may at times be difficult
and irksome to all but philosophers, but various critical points raised are highly valid
and necessary in any deep treatment of the universals issue. Also, the empirical data
is broader than that produced by mainstream cognitive linguists so far. At any rate the
book deserves more recognition and response than it has earned until now.
Bloch, Maurice (1989): Ritual, History and Power, London
The big picture: hypotheses on cognition and comparative culture, with a strong slant
towards the theory of ideology. Lots of ideas for cognitive research, many drawing
from Bloch’s fieldwork with the Merina of Madagascar.
Bloch, Maurice (1998): How We Think They Think. Anthropological Approaches to
Cognition, Memory and Literacy, Boulder
Bloch brings various strands of recent cognitive research to the analysis of
ethnographic data, again based on a variety of interesting observations from
Madagascar. The first chapter is one of the most important texts on culture and
cognition written, it describes basic problems in finding a language for describing
culture, despite the fact that much cultural experience is non-linguistic,
non-propositional and embodied.
Boyer, Pascal (1994): The Naturalness of Religious Ideas, Cambridge
The “naturalization” approach to culture based on African fieldwork data (e.g. on how
to identify magicians). Very strong and suggestive hypotheses (in my opinion only partly supported) on the nature of category recognition, essentialist cognition of inference, and memorization of concepts. Acclaimed, still difficult to read and often very abstract and too inflated.
Cook, Nicholas (1990): Music, Imagination & Culture, Oxford & New York
A fascinating book based in experimental psychology on the mental imagery that
music evokes. Cognitive linguists dealing with image schemas should read this in order
to discover bridges to a neighboring discipline.
Crocker, Christopher (1977): The Social Functions of Rhetorical Forms,
In D. Sapir / Ch. Crocker (eds.): The Social Use of Metaphor,
Philadelphia, 33-65
A good introduction on what the title says. Recommendable for novices,
although dated.
Csordas, Thomas (1990): Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology,
In Ethos 18, 5-47

D’Andrade, Roy G. / Strauss, Claudia (eds.) (1992): Human Motives and
Cultural Models, Cambridge

D'Andrade, Roy G. (1995): The Development of Cognitive Anthropology, Cambridge

Best overview of cognitive anthropology to date; well written and knowledgeable.
If you need a quick state-of-the-art overview read the final chapter and summary.
An absolute must-read!
Fauconnier, Gilles (1997): Mappings in Thought and Language, Cambridge

Fernandez, James W. (1986): Persuasions and Performances: The Play of Tropes
in Culture, Bloomington

The anthropological metaphor classic: outdated terminology, a little a-systematic,
but of amazing scope, depth, and life with date from many countries in Africa
and from Asturia..
Fernandez, James W. (ed.) (1991): Beyond Metaphor. The Theory of Tropes in
Anthropology, Stanford
A volume that is a treasure-trove: It treats the interactions of metaphor within more
complex “polytropes”. Not always easy to read and heavy on essayistic anthropological
theorizing, but worth the effort.
Gerhart, Mary / Russell, Allan (1984): Metaphoric Process. The Creation of
Scientific and Religious Understanding, Fort Worth
A book on general philosophical aspects of metaphor that has not gotten enough
recognition. Not written as such, but excellent and readable textbook introduction
with fine examples that bring the study of models in science and in religion together.
Gibbs, Raymond W. (1994): The Poetics of the Mind, Cambridge

Gibbs, Raymond W. / Colston, Herbert L. (1995): The Cognitive Psychological
Reality of Image Schemas and their Transformations,
In Cognitive Linguistics 6 (4), 347-378

Gil-White, Francisco (2000): Are Ethnic Groups Biological ‘Species’ to the Human Brain?
Essentialism in Our Cognition of Some Social Categories, unpublished ms.

Hamill, James F. (1990): Ethno-Logic. The Anthropology of Human Reasoning,
Urbana & Chicago

Balanced and critical overview, parts of which make a very good introductory text.
Hill, Jane / Mannheim, Bruce (1992): Language and World View,
In Annual Review of Anthropology 21, 381-406

Hirschfeld, Lawrence A. / Gelman Susan A. (eds.) (1994): Mapping the Mind.
Domain Specificity in Cognition and Culture, Cambridge

Holland, Dorothy / Quinn, Naomi (eds.) (1987): Cultural Models in Language and
Thought, Cambridge

Highly acclaimed volume with many seminal texts, both theory and empirical analyses,
including Keesing, Lakoff & Kövecses, Quinn, Kay, D’Andrade, Sweetser, and Lutz.
Defines the notions of folk-theories and folk-models and treats American models
of language, of “lies”, “marriage”, heating appliances, and emotion theories on the
island of Ifaluk.
Hutchins, Edwin (1995): Cognition in the Wild, Cambridge, MA
The idea of distributed cognition (shared task solutions) originates here.
Hutchins did his fieldwork for it on an Aircraft carrier and shows how complex
routines need several actors, inanimate tools and an organized mode of cooperation.
We learn that often knowledge lies in their overall configuration, an cannot be isolated
in anybody’s head.
Jackson, Michael (1983): Thinking Through the Body: An Essay on Understanding
Metaphor, In Social Analysis 14, 127-149

Johnson, Mark (1987): The Body in the Mind. The Bodily Basis of Meaning,
Imagination, and Reason, Chicago

Kirmayer, Laurence (1993): Healing and the Invention of Metaphor:
The Effectiveness of Symbols Revisited,
In Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 17, 161-195

Kirmayer, Laurence J. (1992): The Body’s Insistence on Meaning: Metaphor as
Presentation and Representation in Illness Experience,
In Medical Anthropology Quarterly 6(4), 323-346

Kövecses, Zoltán (2002): Metaphor. A Practical Introduction, Oxford

All there is to know about current metaphor research in cognitive linguistics.
An easy to read and exceedingly well-structured text-book-like introduction,
many examples and exercises included, yet covering the whole range of current
research, including chapters on blending and metonymy. A must, even for scholars
well-established in the field.
Lakoff, George (1987): Women, Fire and Dangerous Things.
What Categories Reveal About the Mind, Chicago
A seminal and impressive (in scope and length) work in cognitive linguistics.
Part one starts with an introduction to human categorization and the role that
metaphor research plays in understanding nn-Aristotelian categories. It also comprises
a comprehensive rebuttal of the so-called Objectivist paradigm in Anglo-Saxon
language philosophy and develops the notion of ”Experiantialism” as an alternative
(as a twin book to Mark Turner’s 1987 volume). Part two first the image schema
approach and shows what role image schemas play in the explanation of so-called
Idealized Cognitive Models (ICS). The final part features three cases studies on
English “there” constructions, on the complex category of “over” expressions and
their internal relation, and about the anger scenario.
Lakoff, George (1993): The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor,
In A. Ortony (ed.): Metaphor and Thought,Cambridge, 202-251
The best reasonably short overview about current theoretical issues in metaphor,
not very well organized because of the complex matter, but rich in content and with
illustrative examples.
Lakoff, George / Johnson, Mark (1999): Philosophy in the Flesh, New York
A startling, but lengthy survey of near to 600 pages of recent research on conceptual
metaphor. Most interestingly, it also deals with issues of methodology in cognitive
research and introduces the notion of “convergent evidence” from varied methods as
a core pillar. In the annex fascinating evidence is produced from a new Berkeley based
interdisciplinary workgroup called the “Neural Theory of Language” that encompasses
artificial intelligence, psychology, and linguistics. Some first, tentative steps are
made in explaining a multi-level explanatory framework that connects the brain-
sciences and the mind-sciences.
Lakoff, George / Turner, Mark (1989): More than Cool Reason. A Field Guide to
Poetic Metaphor, Chicago

Langacker , Ronald (1990): Concept, Image and Symbol. The Conceptual Basis
of Grammar, Berlin & New York

Lawson, Thomas E. / McCauley, Robert N. (1990): Rethinking Religion.
Connecting Cognition and Culture, Cambridge

Lindquist, Galina (1995): Travelling by the Other’s Cognitive Maps or Going
Native and Coming Back, In Ethnos 60 (1-2), 5-40

An important, though little known text on methodology, which reflects on an issue
often eclipsed by cognitive science: date gathering and interpretation. It makes
a goof argument how participant experience and a cognitive analysis can (and must)
go together. Recommendable for anthropologists of all ilk.
Lucy, John A. (1997): Linguistic Relativity,
In Annual Review of Anthropology 26, 291-312

Olds, Linda E. (1992a): Metaphors of Interrelatedness:
Towards a Systems Theory of Psychology, Albany

Quinn, Naomi (1991): The Cultural Basis of Metaphor,
In J. Fernandez (ed.): Beyond Metaphor. The Theory of Tropes in
Anthropology, Stanford, 56-93

A difficult and at points not entirely consistent article about the relative
power of metaphor and superordinate cultural schemas (allegedly “propositionally”
encoded)in organizing cultural cognition; one however which laid the finger on a
potential problem of linguistic metaphor research and sparked a long debate between
linguists and anthropologists. Whichever way it is interpreted, Quinn’s
interview-based case study reveals facets of folk-models that are not usually
accessible to corpus- or intuition based linguistics. Although differences between
linguists and anthropologists (= metaphors vs. cultural schemas) are perhaps a bit
exaggerated, the article raises a legitimate and pertinent counter-hypothesis,
while showing what a close analysis of interview data can accomplish for
cognitive theorizing.
Reddy, Michael J. (19932) [1979]: The Conduit Metaphor,

In A. Ortony (ed.): Metaphor and Thought, Cambridge, 164-201
Here is where cognitive linguistics as we know it started. Based on metaphor analysis
Reddy shows how the cultural model conceiving communication as transferring objects
through conduits constrains the thinkable in Western culture. For illustration of the
consequences he opposes the prevalent folk-model to a more hermeneutical understanding
based on a creative story-like metaphor.
Salmond, Anne (1982): Theoretical Landscapes: A Cross-Cultural Conception
of Knowledge, In D. Parkin (ed.): Semantic Anthropology, London, 65-88
A brilliant analyses before its time of the role that metaphors play for cultural
epistemological systems based on a comparison of Maori and Western metaphors.
A must-read!
Shore, Bradd (1991): Twice Born, Once Conceived: Meaning Construction and
Cultural Cognition, In American Anthropologist 93 (1), 9-27

Shore, Bradd (1996): Culture in Mind, Oxford, New York

Arguably the most important and surely the most encompassing single book on culture
and cognition. Long, intricate and very dense, packed with an amazing overview of
literature from anthropology and neighboring fields. Shore attempts to constitute
an integrative paradigm between psychology and the individual mind and anthropology
and culturally shared knowledge. Too much substance to summarize here.
Shweder, Richard (1991): Thinking Through Cultures; Cambridge, MA
Brings together basic conceptual issues in the study of culture and cognition with
a very eloquent, but not wholly unbalanced, defense of relativism based on a comparison
of inference patterns from India and America by a psychological anthropologist.
Shweder, Richard / LeVine, Robert (eds.) (1984): Culture Theory: Essays on Mind,

Self and Emotion, Cambridge

Sperber, Dan (1996): Explaining Culture, Cambridge, MA

A short and clear introduction to the “naturalization paradigm” in the study of
culture based on various previous papers. The basic question is what sort of knowledge
proliferates, i.e. which mechanisms of learning and memorizing predispose certain
conceptual items for becoming culturally shared.
Strauss, Claudia / Quinn, Naomi (1997): A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning,
Already a classic: A very clear and readable ground statement of what culture as
(partly) shared knowledge is: The way we, as cultural beings, organize knowledge is

determined by, both, centrifugal and centripetal factors. Interesting to cultural
anthropologists, the book features a well-argued introduction that points out the
precursors of cognitive anthropology and tells where the approach covers new ground.
It also explains why and how cultural knowledge can never be wholly integrated and
how contradictions are cognitively processed and summarizes some earlier disputes
with linguistic metaphor theory. The volume is very useful as a textbook and sticks
to a central expository example based in American everyday culture.
Tilley, Christopher (1999): Metaphor and Material Culture, Oxford
A broad introduction to metaphor that humans encode in artifacts, house, natural
formations, etc. by a cognitive archeologist. It has a good grasp of metaphor theory
(though not much from cognitive linguistics) and incorporates a number of quite
interesting case studies. Includes interesting reflections on which is stronger:
image or word.
Turner, Mark (1996): The Literary Mind, Oxford
Few people write so clearly, eruditely and with such catchy, and indeed beautiful,
examples on highly complex matters. This book by a literary scientist on the nature
of blending in stories and parables starts like an easy textbook and ends as a highly
complex treatment of what human creativity is. Perhaps the Clifford Geertz of
cognitive science.
Turner, Terence (1991): ‘We Are Parrots’, ‘Twins Are Birds’: Play of Tropes as
Operational Structure, In J. Fernandez (ed.): Beyond Metaphor. The Theory
of Tropes in Anthropology, Stanford, 121-158
Though complex, a core text of the anthropological literature on metaphor.
Based on two classical examples from the Nuer and Bororo it shows how metaphors
in ritual and worldview are interwoven into more complex polytropes of which they
intrinsically form a part. Documents constant shifts between and parallel levels of
metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche.
Wagner, Wolfgang (1994): Alltagsdiskurs. Die Theorie sozialer Repräsentationen,
A social psychologist systematically surveys material from his and neighboring
disciplines on folk-models and folk-theories (and the mechanisms organizing them)
and touches on number of important theoretical issues in doing so.
Werth, Paul (1999): Text Worlds. Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse,
New York

Wertsch, James (1991): Voices of the Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to
Mediated Action, Cambridge, MA

Whitehouse, Harvey (1995): Inside the Cult. Religious Innovation and
Transmission in Papua New Guinea, Oxford

Based on New-Guinea fieldwork Whitehouse demonstrates that styles of social
organization and religion correspond to styles of memorization and organizing
cultural knowledge.