Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1995

Cognition and Symbolism

Main discipline: Social anthropology
Lecturer: Dr. Christina Toren
Institution: University of Trento, Italy
Dates:7 - 11 August, 1995

Cognition and Symbolism brings a phenomenological perspective to bear on the study of cognition and cognitive development in psychology and social anthropology. It aims to show how social relations between people enter into cognitive processes in particular persons. It also suggests methods by which the analysis of symbolism - myth, ritual, all the many symbolic aspects of behaviour - can be incorporated into an investigation of cognition a~ a micro-historical process in particular persons.

The course consists of 10 two-hour lectures on the following topics;

  1. Images of mind in anthropology and psychology
  2. Embodying knowledge
  3. Developmental perspectives
  4. Children as subjects and objects
  5. Person and gender
  6. Selves as subjects and objects
  7. Categorising experience
  8. Language and consciousness
  9. Thinking symbols
  10. Cognitive process and ritual process

Essay questions will be issued separately. Please note that, while the structure of the course is topic-based, the essay questions will assume a general understanding of the subject matter of the course (i.e. across topics) as well as a grasp of the specific issues that given questions focus on.

Basic reading

The lecturer
Christina Toren received her PhD in Social Anthropology from London School in Economics in 1986. She is now working at the Department of Human Sciences at Brunel University, where she is Senior Lecturer.