"He got lightrayed by the vapour of the fire": everyday knowledge about light among the Yucatec Maya
Catherine Letcher Lazo (Bonn University)
Paper short abstract:
Based on theoretical and methodological approaches in cognitive anthropology, the paper examines everyday knowledge about light of the indigenous population of Yucatán in southern Mexico.
Paper long abstract:
In the 1950s and 1960s, cognitive anthropologists largely focused their attention on the description and analysis of folk systems of knowledge. In recent times the discipline shifted towards investigating the knowledge of individuals that is learned and applied in everyday life. This everyday knowledge, which has also been labeled naïve or intuitive knowledge, has triggered a wide interest in the study of foundational core domains of thought, that is, human reasoning about the biological, physical and psychological world. A growing number of researchers agree that humans possess "framework theories" about the aforementioned aspects of the world and that these theories represent coherent bodies of knowledge that involve causal understanding. The study presented at the ASA14 examines the everyday knowledge about light of the indigenous population of Yucatán, Mexico. Based on theoretical and methodological approaches in Cognitive Anthropology the following questions are going to be discussed: What role does light play in Yucatec Maya culture? What kind of framework theories about light do the Yucatec Maya apply in their everyday actions? And which are the components from which these framework theories are constituted? The research results are based on data that was collected during a field study in a rural community of Yucatán.
Light as material culture, experience and practice