This panel explores perceptual and conceptual blending processes as the emergence and communication of meaning on various levels (cognitive, cultural, linguistic, etc.) and their crucial role in the comprehension of human imagination.
Over the last three decades there has been a significant shift operating from representational to "enactive" and "embodied" perspectives on cognition and perception, both in anthropology and cognitive sciences (Csordas 1990, Dreyfus 2009, Ingold 2000). However when dealing with imagination and creativity (Turner and Fauconnier 1999), it seems impossible not to consider conceptual representation and "mental imagery", or equally inconceivable to study these issues without referring to material and bodily entanglements. Consequently, rather than fueling the conceptual divide between environmental features and internal representations, we argue that meaning emergence and communication continuously relies on blending processes within and across mind and environment. Metaphors (Oakley 1999) and visual blending (Hutchins 2005) entail the coexistence of perceived and imagined features that are essential for achieving cognitive tasks and communicating cultural experiences (Lemonier 2012). At the crossroad of linguistics, cognitive sciences and anthropology, the notion of blending has thus opened up a vast and promising field of research (Turner 2001, Liu and Stasko 2010). Several issues are worth investigating. What are the material, social and cognitive conditions for blending processes to occur? How do blended cognition and perception relate to cultural imaginaries and shared narratives? To what extent can creative or daily practices rely on the superimposition of anticipatory "images"? How is blending involved in learning environments? In this panel, we call upon papers dealing with these issues through a multidisciplinary approach, as well as papers providing micro-level ethnographic accounts of blending processes and artistic, religious or mundane occurrences of human imagination.