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Pedagogy: ethnographic and cognitive engagements 
Vlad Naumescu (Central European University)
Charles Stafford (London School of Economics)
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Start time:
22 July, 2016 at
Time zone: Europe/Rome
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel explores the role of pedagogy in processes of cultural transmission. Papers should combine ethnographic insights with psychological theory and methods to study teaching and learning in diverse social contexts including but not limited to early socialization, religious and moral education.

Long Abstract:

This panel brings ethnographic studies of (formal and/or informal) teaching and learning across cultural-historical contexts into dialogue with recent psychological work on pedagogy and ostensive communication. A focus on pedagogy engages several key issues in the anthropology of cultural transmission, including the implicit assumptions people make to ascribe and reason about knowledge; the various forms that teaching and learning take in specific localities; and the selective biases in children's apprehension of cultural categories. Culturally-specific pedagogies draw on local 'theories of mind' (Luhrmann 2011; Astuti 2015) like the 'opacity of mind' doctrine in the Pacific that may interact with evolved cognitive mechanisms. Learning from others and being taught meet in pedagogical practice, as children's gradual participation in and understanding of the surrounding environment is guided by social institutions. This is where studies on ostensive communication (Csibra and Gergely 2011) and epistemic vigilance (Sperber et all 2010) bear on ethnographic observations concerning the role of linguistic and embodied practice, ritual, testimony in the transmission of values, beliefs and the like.

By extending pedagogy beyond formal education we aim to explore its role in processes of cultural transmission as well as the absence of active teaching in some cultures. We invite ethnographic papers that examine knowledge transmission in diverse social contexts - including but not limited to early socialization, religious learning and moral education. We would especially welcome papers that critically engage with evolutionary or developmental theory and experimental methods, but this is not a requirement for selection.

Accepted papers:

Session 1