“Maurice Bloch is so ferociously smart that one can always enjoy tangling with his ideas, even when—perhaps especially when—one doesn’t agree with him. This is an important and provocative book.” —Sherry Ortner Columbia University These essays by one of anthropology’s most original theorists consider such fundamental questions as: Is cognition language-based? How reliable a guide to memory are people’s narratives about themselves? What connects the “social recalling” studied by anthropologists to the “autobiographical memory” studied by psychologists? Now gathered in accessible form for the first time and drawing frequently upon the author’s fieldwork among the Zafimaniry of Madagascar for ethnographic examples, the twelve closely linked essays of How We Think They Think pose provocative challenges not only to conventional cognitive models but to the basic assumptions that underlie much of ethnography. This book will be read with interest by those who study culture and cognition, ethnographic theory and practice, and the peoples and cultures of Africa.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Cognition -- Language, Anthropology and Cognitive Science -- What Goes Without Saying: The Conceptualization of Zafimaniry Society -- Cognition and Ethnography -- Domain-Specificity, Living Kinds and Symbolism -- Memory -- Internal and External Memory: Different Ways of Being in History -- The Resurrection of the House Amongst the Zafimaniry of Madagascar -- Time, Narratives and the Multiplicity of Representations of the Past -- Autobiographical Memory and the Historical Memory of the More Distant Past -- Literacy -- Astrology and Writing in Madagascar -- Literacy and Enlightenment -- The Uses of Schooling and Literacy in a Zafimaniry Village 1 -- Why do Malagasy Cows Speak French?