The Cultural Mind and Human Adaptation

Anthropology studies the cultural constructions and cognitions that affect environmental values, decision making, human practices (Atran et al 2005). I found “The Cultural Model” article fascinating because it’s an applicable synthesis of various anthropological theories and interpretations of socio-cultural environmental adaption. How people act in, adapt to, and negotiate their relationship with their environment is all linked.

To put this into a more familiar context, this article reminded me of the Marvin Harris (in Counihan reader) article we read earlier this semester. Religious practices are, in some cases, human expressions in a spiritual or sacred cognition to adapt to their environment. Harris found that the pig was not a cost-effective animal to raise in the Levant and wider Middle Eastern region, and so this practicality of adaption exhibited itself into the pig became a taboo animal to consume within religious contexts.

While the Harris article is an example of human adaptions to their environment in a religious context, “The Cultural Mind” provides a way to examine other ways of human adaption and cultural expression. I have a question to pose to the group: which ways does the “culture” of your hometown differ from the “culture” of Davidson? In what ways are these directly linked to the environment and historical backgrounds of both places?