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Course Description

The twin disciplines of psychological anthropology and cultural psychology are founded on the principle that "mind" and "culture" co-constitute one another. In this course we will investigate various domains of human experience, including how humans come to understand and experience God(s), ancestors, and other unseen beings; human development across the life course; mental health and well-being as experienced in different social and cultural contexts; kinship; how people imagine their own personhood (cf. "self"); personality; and so on. Across each of these domains, we will seek to understand the co-constitution of mind and culture by analyzing the various collective (social and cultural) dimensions of a phenomenon, along with the more idiosyncratic and mental (psychological and biological) dimensions, including how these come together to make up human experience across these various domains.


Psychological anthropology is perhaps not best seen as a sub-discipline of anthropology, but rather a more comprehensive way of understanding human experience. For example, it is not the case that only some dimensions of human experience are both cultural and psychological. Rather, psychological anthropologists seek to understand how culture and mind co-constitute one another in all domains of human experience. To psychology this field adds the necessity of ethnographic context, and to anthropology this field adds the necessity of understanding mental processes in order to derive a more complete understanding of cultural experience. Psychological anthropologists critique each field, respectively, for generally ignoring the other dimension that should be taken into account in developing a more comprehensive view of human experience.

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