Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Invited Session
Wednesday, November 16
4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 200H
Session Description: This session hopes to provide a critical examination of the observations of Consciousness by examining the neuroscientific & physical basis of the mind & consciousness. How do we observe consciousness, whether our own or the consciousness of others? The anthropologist’s own consciousness is a necessary tool for observation. An openness to perceiving the improbable seems a prerequisite for the scientific study of consciousness. At the very least, to be capable of observing consciousness in any meaningful way, we as anthropologists have to be open to observing the improbable experiences of others. So much of consciousness studies focuses on examining extra-ordinary experiences which offer insights into the ordinary human experience. How important are serendipitous experiences and events to anthropologists who study consciousness? How might our understanding of our data as an outside observer differ from the insider understanding of the same information? What happens when we blur the line between the outside and inside perspectives through participation and native ethnography? Many anthropologists studying consciousness find experiencing rare forms of consciousness appealing. How does this inform their research and their findings? This panel presents anthropological papers addressing how the presenters observe and document consciousness in their own research. It opens up an interdisciplinary dialogue for addressing consciousness as it relates to matter and the tangible; the seen and unseen. Presenters draw on interdisciplinary perspectives combining anthropology with psychology, neurology, statistics, and physics. The panel will interrogate the role of rigorous science and experiential knowledge in the study of consciousness. Asking, how do we know when we’ve got evidence of consciousness?
Organizer: Sydney Yeager Southern Methodist University
Discussant: el-Sayed el-Aswad United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates