The Warburg Institute presents an online seminar via Zoom: Noga Arikha (Associate Fellow, Warburg Institute): ‘The Self as Other: Franz Boas between Psychology and Anthropology’

March 3, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. GMT

Psychology and anthropology have deep connections, since both are concerned with the study of humankind. The one focuses on the functioning of the embodied mind. The other focuses on how minds create culture. The psychology of our day, especially that concerning the embodied self, which is Arikha’s central focus, has established (and continues to show) how culture, which anthropologist Margaret Mead defined as “experiments with what could be done with human nature,” is indeed an aspect of our nature, and how biological evolution is a handmaiden to cultural adaptations. Insofar as we humans have evolved as social animals, and that anthropology can also be seen as a type of comparative psychology, the respective realms of these disciplines overlap – as Aby Warburg knew well – and have done so since their formation in the nineteenth century, in particular after Darwin. Arikha’s current project, a commissioned intellectual biography of Franz Boas, the German founder of cultural anthropology who created the first ever chair in the subject at Columbia University (and was a teacher of Mead, inter alia), is an occasion to unravel the complex interplay of ideas about biological constants and cultural variations in light of the history of the debates about what we understand as nature and what as culture, what as individual and what as social, what as evolved and what as acquired. In this talk, she will show how the history of the inherently multidisciplinary field that is anthropology, navigating as it does between empirical investigation and theoretical speculation, can throw light on the origins of current concerns about the embodied self in psychology. 

The Work in Progress seminar explores the variety of subjects studied and researched at the Warburg Institute. Papers are given by invited international scholars, research fellows studying at the Institute, and advanced Ph.D. students.

This program is free, but registration is required. Please sign up for the seminar here.

Sarah Pickman: contributions /