For the New York politician, see Maurice Bloch. Maurice Bloch is a British anthropologist, his widowed mother remarried an Englishman, moved with her son to England when he was eleven. He did all of his college and graduate work there, has had most of his academic career at the London School of Economics, where he was made full professor in 1983. Maurice Bloch was born in Caen, Calvados, to Jewish parents Claudette, a marine biologist, Pierre Bloch, an engineer, his grandmother was a niece of sociologist Emile Durkheim and a much younger first cousin of anthropologist Marcel Mauss. Maurice attended the Lycée Carnot in Paris, his father was killed by the Nazis while in the French Army. When Maurice was eleven, his widowed mother married British biologist John S. Kennedy, whom she had met at a conference, she and her son moved to England to join Kennedy, Bloch became a British citizen, attending The Perse School in Cambridge. He studied as an undergraduate at the London School of Economics, attending lectures at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
He continued his training in anthropology at Fitzwilliam College, where he obtained his doctorate in 1967. His subsequent career has been entirely at the London School of Economics, where he was appointed a full professor in 1983. In 2005 Bloch was appointed European Professor at the Collège de France, he was until 2009 visiting Professor at the Free University of Amsterdam. He has taught and has been an occasional visiting professor in most European countries, as well as Japan. In the US, he was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, at the New School for Social Research in New York City. At present, he is Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics and an associate member of the Institut Jean Nicod of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he has supervised many younger anthropologists, several of whom hold prestigious posts in the UK, US, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina and Malaysia. His writings have been translated into at least twelve languages.
In 1990, Bloch was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Bloch's field research has been carried out in two different areas of Madagascar. One field site has been among the peasants of central Imerina, his writing deals with religion, economics and language. His research has been much influenced by French Marxist ideas, he has been an innovator in relating social anthropology to linguistics and cognitive psychology. Much of his theoretical work since the 1970s has concerned the interface between cognition and social and cultural life. What he has written on this subject faces two ways: on the one hand, he criticises anthropologists for exaggerating the particularity of specific cultures, he has published more than a hundred articles and many books, half of which concern Madagascar in some way. Cognitive anthropology His books include: 1971 Placing the Dead: Tombs, Ancestral Villages, Kinship Organization in Madagascar, London: Seminar Press. 1975 Political Language and Traditional Society, London: Academic Press.
1975 Marxist Analyses and Social Anthropology, A. S. A. Studies. London: Malaby Press. 1982 Death and the Regeneration of Life, Cambridge: CUP. 1983 Marxism and Anthropology: The History of a Relationship, Oxford: Clarendon. 1986 From Blessing to Violence: History and Ideology in the Circumcision Ritual of the Merina of Madagascar, Cambridge: CUP. 1989 Money and the Morality of Exchange Cambridge: CUP. 1992 Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience, Cambridge: CUP 1998 How We Think They Think: Anthropological Studies in Cognition and Literacy. Boulder: Westview Press. 2005 Essays in the Transmission of Culture. Berg: London. 2012 Anthropology and the Cognitive Challenge. Cambridge: CUP. 2013 In and Out of Each Other's Bodies: Theories of Mind, Evolution and the Nature of the Social. Boulder: Paradigm. "Interview of Maurice Bloch": Maurice Bloch interviewed by Alan Macfarlane on 29 May 2008 "The Reluctant Anthropologist": Eurozine interview of Maurice Bloch by Maarja Kaaristo on 29 July 2007 Maurice Bloch’s webpage at the LSE Some of Maurice Bloch’s publications are available via LSE Research Online:http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/
Marvin Kaufmann Opler was an American anthropologist and social psychiatrist. His brother Morris Edward Opler was an anthropologist who studied the Southern Athabaskan peoples of North America. Morris and Marvin Opler were the sons of Austrian-born Arthur A. Opler, a merchant, Fanny Coleman-Hass. Marvin Opler is best known for his work as a principal investigator in the Midtown Community Mental Health Research Study; this landmark study hinted at widespread stresses induced by urban life, as well as contributing to the development of the burgeoning field of social psychiatry in the 1950s. Marvin Opler attended the University at Buffalo from 1931 to 1934. While there, he was a leader in the University's National Student League, he transferred to the University of Michigan, attracted by the reputation of the American anthropologist Leslie White. Marvin Opler's admiration of White's work was in contrast to that of his brother Morris Opler. Marvin Opler was interested in the relationships between psychology and anthropology, fields which White had considered connected.
White was beginning to distance himself from the field of psychology at that time. Marvin Opler was granted an A. B. in social studies from the University of Michigan in 1935. After college, he continued his academic career at Columbia University. There he had the chance to study anthropology under Ralph Linton. At this time, Opler was conducting some of the earliest anthropological fieldwork among the Southern Utes. After completing his dissertation on the acculturation of the Ute and Paiute peoples in Colorado and Utah, he was granted a Ph. D. from Columbia in 1938. In his work with the Ute and Paiute peoples, Marvin Opler noted that Ute and Paiute shamans used techniques of dream analysis that shared features in common with psychoanalysis, although they were developed independently of Western psychiatric practices, he did anthropological fieldwork among the Eastern Apache tribes, the Eskimo, the Northwest Coast Indians in Oregon. Opler taught sociology and anthropology as the chair of anthropology at Reed College from 1938 until 1943.
In 1943, Marvin Opler was appointed to the War Labor Board. From 1943 until 1946, Opler worked as a Community Analyst at the Tule Lake Japanese Internment Camp, where his critical views of the internment of Japanese Americans led him to co-author Impounded Peoples in 1946. While at Tule Lake, he kept careful records of daily camp life. Opler documented instances of abuse at the camp and worked with lawyer Wayne M. Collins on behalf of the internees, his records included an account of "The November Incident," a protest by the residents of the camp which resulted in the takeover of Tule Lake by the US Army. Author Barney Shallit remembered Marvin Opler at Tule Lake both fondly and vividly: "with his heavy red beard and his slow, deliberate movements, he looked... Like a benign, giant panda." Marvin's wife, Charlotte Opler, enrolled their son Ricky in the Japanese nursery camp at the center, making him the only Caucasian enrolled there. Marvin Opler noted the parallels between the revival of traditional Japanese culture among the acculturated internees at Tule Lake and the spread of the Ghost Dance religion among Plains Indian tribes in the 19th century.
Opler pointed out. Historian Peter Suzuki writes that most of the anthropologists who worked for the War Relocation Authority accepted the government's action of interning the Japanese Americans as morally justified. Suzuki believes, that Marvin Opler's work was a model of the positive role that these anthropologists could have played. Suzuki suggests that Opler's acknowledgment of a wider social and political field as part of his analysis, Opler's criticism of the segregation of so-called "loyal" versus "disloyal" internees, the respect that Opler paid to Japanese culture made his work such a model. At Tule Lake, Marvin Opler befriended several well-known Japanese American internees. One of these was Yamato Ichihashi, one of the first academics of Asian ancestry in the United States. Ichihashi wrote a comprehensive account of his experiences as an internee. Opler was impressed by the work of George Tamura, a Japanese American artist who spent his teenage years imprisoned at Tule Lake. Marvin Opler co-authored an article on Senryū folk poetry with another internee, F. Obayashi, published in the Journal of American Folklore in 1945.
In his book Threatening Anthropology anthropologist David H. Price discusses FBI documents from 1945 in which FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered an FBI investigation of Marvin Opler after the discovery of a letter bearing the initial "M" in a Portland trash can. Marvin Opler was questioned by the FBI. One of many anthropologists investigated, the bureau was seeking to discover whether Opler had any Communist Party affiliation, he responded that the only party he had been a member of was the Democratic Party, which he had been involved in up until he moved to Tule Lake. The FBI discovered that Opler was held in high regard both by his coworkers at Tule Lake, as well as by the interned Japanese Americans. One WRA employee informed the FBI that Marvin Opler was considered a "wobbly," a "conscientious objector," and a "long hair" by people in the WRA; this informant was unable to give any reasons for this point of view, however. The FBI described Opler as being "courteous" and ended the investigation.
After the internment camps were closed, Opler taught anthropology and sociology at various colleges, including Occidental, Stanford and Tulane from 1946 until 1952. In 1947, Marvin Opler submitted an affidavit in support of the restoration of citizenship to
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans. It is in contrast to social anthropology, which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant. Cultural anthropology has a rich methodology, including participant observation and surveys. One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term "culture" came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1871 book: "Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, art, law and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." The term "civilization" gave way to definitions given by V. Gordon Childe, with culture forming an umbrella term and civilization becoming a particular kind of culture; the anthropological concept of "culture" reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between "culture" and "nature", according to which some human beings lived in a "state of nature".
Anthropologists have argued that culture is "human nature", that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically, teach such abstractions to others. Since humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, people living in different places or different circumstances develop different cultures. Anthropologists have pointed out that through culture people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will have different cultures. Much of anthropological theory has originated in an appreciation of and interest in the tension between the local and the global; the rise of cultural anthropology took place within the context of the late 19th century, when questions regarding which cultures were "primitive" and which were "civilized" occupied the minds of not only Marx and Freud, but many others. Colonialism and its processes brought European thinkers into direct or indirect contact with "primitive others."
The relative status of various humans, some of whom had modern advanced technologies that included engines and telegraphs, while others lacked anything but face-to-face communication techniques and still lived a Paleolithic lifestyle, was of interest to the first generation of cultural anthropologists. Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which sociality is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups and the relations among them—developed as an academic discipline in Britain and in France; the umbrella term socio-cultural anthropology draws upon both cultural and social anthropology traditions. Anthropology is concerned with the lives of people in different parts of the world in relation to the discourse of beliefs and practices. In addressing this question, ethnologists in the 19th century divided into two schools of thought. Some, like Grafton Elliot Smith, argued that different groups must have learned from one another somehow, however indirectly.
Other ethnologists argued that different groups had the capability of creating similar beliefs and practices independently. Some of those who advocated "independent invention", like Lewis Henry Morgan, additionally supposed that similarities meant that different groups had passed through the same stages of cultural evolution. Morgan, in particular, acknowledged that certain forms of society and culture could not have arisen before others. For example, industrial farming could not have been invented before simple farming, metallurgy could not have developed without previous non-smelting processes involving metals. Morgan, like other 19th century social evolutionists, believed there was a more or less orderly progression from the primitive to the civilized. 20th-century anthropologists reject the notion that all human societies must pass through the same stages in the same order, on the grounds that such a notion does not fit the empirical facts. Some 20th-century ethnologists, like Julian Steward, have instead argued that such similarities reflected similar adaptations to similar environments.
Although 19th-century ethnologists saw "diffusion" and "independent invention" as mutually exclusive and competing theories, most ethnographers reached a consensus that both processes occur, that both can plausibly account for cross-cultural similarities. But these ethnographers pointed out the superficiality of many such similarities, they noted that traits that spread through diffusion were given different meanings and function from one society to another. Analyses of large human concentrations in big cities, in multidisciplinary studies by Ronald Daus, show how new methods may be applied to the understanding of man living in a global world and how it was caused by the action of extra-European nations, so highlighting the role of Ethics in modern anthropology. Accordingly, most of these anthropologists showed less interest in comparing cultures, generalizing about human nature, or discovering universal laws of cultural development, than in understanding particular cultures in those cultures' own terms.
Such ethnographers and their students promoted the idea of "cultural relativi
Cora Du Bois
Cora Alice Du Bois was an American cultural anthropologist and a key figure in culture and personality studies and in psychological anthropology more generally. Du Bois was born in New York City on October 26, 1903 to Mattie Schreiber Du Bois and Jean Du Bois, immigrants to the U. S. from Switzerland. She spent most of her childhood in New Jersey, she spent a year studying library science at the New York Public Library and attended Barnard College, graduating with a B. A. in history in 1927. She earned an M. A. in history from Columbia University in 1928. Encouraged by an anthropology course taught by Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas at Columbia, DuBois moved to California to study anthropology with Native American specialists Alfred L. Kroeber and Robert Lowie, she received her Ph. D. in anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1932. In part due to prejudices against women academics, she was unable to find a university position, she remained at Berkeley as a teaching fellow and research assistant from 1932 to 1935.
She conducted salvage ethnography on several Native American groups of northern California and the Pacific Northwest, including the Wintu Indians of northern California. She published The 1870 Ghost Dance in 1939, a study of a religious movement among Native Americans in the Western U. S. In 1935, Du Bois received a National Research Council Fellowship to undertake clinical training and explore possible collaborations between anthropology and psychiatry, she spent six months at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, now the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, six months at the New York Psychoanalytic Society. In New York she worked with psychiatrist Abram Kardiner, who became her mentor and collaborator for several projects in cross-cultural diagnosis and the psychoanalytic study of culture. Du Bois taught at Hunter College in 1936-1937 while developing a fieldwork project to test their new ideas. From 1937 to 1939, DuBois lived and conducted research on the island of Alor, part of the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia.
She collected detailed case studies, life-history interviews, administered various personality tests, which she interpreted in collaboration with Kardiner and published as The People of Alor: A Social-Psychological Study of an East Indian Island in 1944. One of her major theoretical advances in this work was the concept of "modal personality structure". With this notion she modified earlier ideas in the Culture and Personality school of anthropology on "basic personality structure" by demonstrating that, while there is always individual variation within a culture, each culture favors the development of a particular type or types, which will be the most common within that culture, her work influenced other psychiatric anthropologists, including Robert I. Levy, with his person-centered ethnography, Melford Spiro. Like many other American social scientists during World War II, DuBois served as a member of the Office of Strategic Services working in the Research and Analysis Branch as Chief of the Indonesia section.
In 1944 she moved to Ceylon to serve as chief of research and analysis for the Army's Southeast Asia Command. There she began a lesbian relationship with Jeanne Taylor, another OSS employee, they lived together as a couple and in the mid-1950s they visited Paul and Julia Child in Paris. DuBois and Taylor, "her companion," according to her Harvard Library biographer, "enjoyed an active social life" in the 1970s, she left the OSS after World War II and from 1945 to 1949 was Southeast Asia Branch Chief in the State Department's Office of Intelligence Research. In 1950, she declined an appointment to succeed Kroeber as head of the anthropology department at Berkeley rather than sign the California Loyalty Oath required of all faculty members. DuBois worked for the World Health Organization in 1950-51. In 1954, she accepted an appointment at Harvard University as the second person to hold the Zimurray Chair at Radcliffe College, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1955.
She was the first woman tenured in Harvard's Anthropology Department and the second woman tenured in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. She conducted research between 1961 and 1967 in the temple city of Bhubaneswar in the Indian state of Orissa, where a number of graduate students in Anthropology and Social Relations conducted fieldwork. DuBois was president of the American Anthropological Association in 1968-69 and of the Association for Asian Studies in 1969-70, the first woman to be allowed that honor. In 1970 she retired from Harvard but continued teaching as Professor-at-large at Cornell University and for one term at the University of California, San Diego, she died in Brookline, Massachusetts, on April 7, 1991. Most of her research materials and personal papers are held in Tozzer Library at Harvard University; some are in the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago. Abram Kardiner, psychiatrist Ralph Linton, anthropologist Jean Briggs and psychological anthropologist, Canadian Inuit Richard Taub, sociologist Richard A. Shweder, cultural anthropologist and cultural psychologist, Orissa Seymour, Susan C..
Cora Du Bois: anthropologist, agent. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803274303. Du Bois, Cora A; the Feather Cult of the Middle Columbia. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Company. Du Bois, Cora A; the 1870 Ghost Dance. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Du Bois, C. A; the people of Alor. With analyses by Abram Kardiner and Emil Oberholzer. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Du Bois, Cora (1959
Georges Devereux was a Hungarian-French ethnologist and psychoanalyst considered the founder of ethnopsychiatry. He was born into a Jewish family in the Austria-Hungary, his family moved to France following World War I. He studied the Malayan language in Paris. In 1933 he changed his name to Georges Devereux. At that time, he traveled for the first time to the United States to do fieldwork among the Mohave Indians, completing his doctorate in anthropology at University of California at Berkeley in 1936. In the postwar years, Devereux became a psychoanalyst, working with the Winter Veterans Hospital and Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, he treated Native Americans by drawing on his anthropology background. A pioneer, he is "well regarded among French and American scholars interested in psychoanalytic anthropology". Devereux taught at several colleges in the United States, returning to Paris about 1962 at the invitation of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, he was appointed as director of studies of Section VI at the noted École pratique des hautes études in Paris, where he worked from 1963 to 1981.
In addition, he had a private clinical practice. Devereux published more than 400 texts. In 1993 the Centre George Devereux was founded in his honor at the University of Paris 8 Saint-Denis, to offer care to students and people in the community, his 1951 work and Dream, about his ethnopsychoanalysis of a Native American Blackfoot man, was adapted as a French film, Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian and directed by Arnaud Desplechin. George Devereux is buried in the Colorado River Indian Tribes cemetery in Arizona; the land is the CRIT reservation. He was born György Dobó in 1908, in Lugoj, the Banat, now in Romania and part of Austria-Hungary, his family was Hungarian bourgeois. His father was a lawyer, his mother of ethnic German Jewish background. Devereux had a rather difficult relationship with his mother, he said that the "insincerity of the adults", their "lack of respect for the world of the children" was a formative experience of his childhood and youth. His cousin was Edward Teller.
As a youngster growing up in that imperial and cosmopolitan world, in France, Dobó learned and spoke four languages: Hungarian, Romanian and French. He studied piano as a youth but, after an unsuccessful operation to correct a problem with his hand, had to give up his dream of performing professionally, his older brother committed suicide. Following the breakup of Austria-Hungary after World War I, the Dobó family left Romania for France; as a youth, Georgy studied physics with Marie Curie in Paris. He was looking for ` subjective' truth in music. In his writings, he referred to notions taken from the natural sciences, he had to interrupt his studies. After recovering, Dobó moved to Germany, to begin an apprenticeship in a publishing house, he returned to Paris upon completion and, taking a new direction, he enrolled at the École des langues orientales, known as INALCO, where he studied the Malay language, qualifying in 1931. He became a pupil of Marcel Mauss and Paul Rivet in anthropology, graduating from the Institut d'ethnologie.
He befriended Klaus Mann. During this period, Dobó wrote a novel, Le faune dans l’enfer bourgeois, which has not been published. From 1931 to 1935, Dobó worked at the Musee d'histoire naturelle as a junior researcher. After completing his licence ès lettres, he received a grant/scholarship in 1932 from the Rockefeller Foundation in New York to do fieldwork in the United States, he moved to the southwest, doing fieldwork among the Mohave, Hopi and Cocopa in the California and Arizona areas. His early days in the United States proved to be difficult. "Among the young American anthropologists with whom he collaborated during his preparative stage he encountered only distrust and contempt. This was the first of five periods when he studied them, he noted. He learned, he said they "converted him to Freud". In 1933 György Dobó converted to Catholicism, adopted the French name of Georges Devereux; as part of his anthropology work, he traveled to Indochina to live among and study the Sedang Moi. Devereux completed his PhD in anthropology in 1936 at the University of California-Berkeley, working under Alfred Kroeber.
Interested in the use of dreams, Devereux decided to study psychoanalysis, still a new field of study in the United States. He was analyzed by Robert Jokl, he completed his analytical training in 1952 at the Topeka Institute of Psychoanalysis in Kansas, now part of the Menninger Clinic. In the early 21st century, the Clinic moved to Houston and became affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. From 1945 to 1953 Devereux was associated with the Winter Veterans Hospital in Topeka as ethnologist and research director, he treated and studied several Native Americans suffering from mental illness in this period, including Jimmy Picard, a Blackfoot whom he wrote about. He drew from his anthropology background to treat these men. From 1953 to 1955 Devereux worked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with children and teenagers at the Devereux School. In 1956 he was appointed as professor of ethnopsychiatr
E. Thomas Lawson
Ernest Thomas Lawson is an honorary professor at the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast. He is the executive editor of the Journal of Cognition and Culture and co-founder of the North American Association for the Study of Religion, he is a founding member and has served as the first President of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. Lawson is considered to be the founder of the cognitive science of religion field, he has published the books Religions of Africa: Traditions in Transformation and, with Robert N. McCauley, Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture and Bringing Ritual to Mind: Psychological Foundations of Ritual Forms, he played a leading role in the establishment of departments of religion at public universities in the United States during the 1960s. A festschrift in his honor, Religion as a Human Capacity: A Festschrift in Honor of E. Thomas Lawson, was published in 2004, he is Emeritus Professor of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University.
Lawson is a "Senior Researcher and Distinguished Professor in Residence" at LEVYNA at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. In addition to his research activities Lawson is an avid painter, science fiction reader, bird watcher. Institute of Cognition and Culture International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion LEVYNA
Dan Sperber is a French social and cognitive scientist. His most influential work has been in the fields of cognitive anthropology and linguistic pragmatics: developing, with British psychologist Deirdre Wilson, relevance theory in the latter. Sperber holds the positions of Directeur de Recherche émérite at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Director of the International Cognition and Culture Institute. Sperber is the son of Austrian-French novelist Manès Sperber, he was born in France and raised an atheist but his parents, both non-religious Ashkenazi Jews, imparted to the young Sperber a "respect for my Rabbinic ancestors and for religious thinkers of any persuasion more generally". He became interested in anthropology as a means of explaining how rational people come to hold mistaken religious beliefs about the supernatural. Sperber was trained in the University of Oxford. In 1965 he joined the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique as a researcher in the Laboratoire d'Études Africaines.
He moved to the Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative, the Centre de Recherche en Epistémelogie Appliquée and from 2001, the Institut Jean Nicod. Sperber's early work was on the anthropology of religion, he conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Dorze people of Ethiopia. Sperber was an early proponent of structural anthropology, having been introduced to it by Rodney Needham at Oxford, helped popularise it in British social anthropology. At the CNRS he studied under Claude Lévi-Strauss, credited as the founder of structuralism, who encouraged Sperber's "untypical theoretical musings". In the 1970s, Sperber came to be identified with post-structuralism in French anthropology, criticised the theories of Lévi-Strauss and other structuralists for using interpretive ethnographic data as if it were an objective record, for its lack of explanatory power. Sperber has persistently defended the legacy of Lévi-Strauss' work as opening the door for naturalistic social science, as an important precursor to cognitive anthropology.
After moving away from structuralism, Sperber sought an alternative naturalistic approach to the study of culture. His 1975 book Rethinking Symbolism, outlined a theory of symbolism using concepts from the burgeoning field of cognitive psychology, it was formulated as a reply to semiological theories which were becoming widespread in anthropology through the works of Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz. Sperber's work has continued to argue for the importance of cognitive processes understood through psychology in understanding cultural phenomena and, in particular, cultural transmission. His'epidemiology of representations' is an approach to cultural evolution inspired by the field of epidemiology, it proposes that the distribution of cultural representations within a population should be explained with reference to biases in transmission and the "ecology" of the individual minds they inhabit. Sperber's approach is broadly Darwinist—it explains the macro-distribution of a trait in a population in terms of the cumulative effect micro-processes acting over time—but departs from memetics because he does not see representations as replicators except for in a few special circumstances.
The cognitive and epidemiological approach to cultural evolution has been influential, but as a means of explaining culture more it is pursued by only a small minority of scholars. His latest work, published with cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier, has developed their argumentative theory of reason, his most influential work is arguably in linguistics and philosophy: with the British linguist and philosopher Deirdre Wilson he has developed an innovative approach to linguistic interpretation known as relevance theory which as of 2010 has become mainstream in the area of pragmatics, artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology. He argues that cognitive processes are geared toward the maximisation of relevance, that is, a search for an optimal balance between cognitive efforts and cognitive effects; as well as his emeritus position at the CNRS, Sperber is part time professor in the departments of Cognitive Science and of Philosophy at the Central European University in Budapest. He is the Director of the International Cognition and Culture Institute, a scientific discussion and research website.
He is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and in 2009 was awarded the inaugural Claude Lévi-Strauss Prize for excellence of French research in the humanities and social sciences. In 2011 he gave a Turku Agora Lecture. Le structuralisme en anthropologie Rethinking Symbolism On Anthropological Knowledge Relevance. Communication and Cognition Causal Cognition: A multidisciplinary debate. Explaining Culture Metarepresentations: A multidisciplinary perspective Experimental Pragmatics and Relevance, The Enigma of Reason, ISBN 9780674368309 Scott Atran Maurice Bloch Pascal Boyer Off