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Course Detail

Course Name Cognitive Anthropology Cross – Cultural Perspectives
Course Code 24CLT512
Program M. Sc. Cognitive Sciences, Learning and Technology
Semester I
Credits 3
Campus Amritapuri


Unit I

Unit I – Understanding Cognitive Anthropology and its Emergence
Introduction: What is Cognitive Anthropology?
Emergence of Cognitive Anthropology
Definition, scope, and goals of Cognitive Anthropology
Historical development of cognitive approaches in anthropology: Ethnosemantics, Ethnoscience, Ethnolinguistics, and New Ethnography

Unit II

Unit II – Culture and Thought
Relationship between culture and cognition
Language and its role in shaping thought
Symbolic meaning and communication
Cognitive aspects of ritual and symbolism
Linguistic Relativity hypothesis or Sapir – Whorf Hypothesis

Unit III

Unit III – Principal Concepts
Culture Models, Domain, Prototypes, folk models, folk taxonomies, schemata, knowledge structures, Mental models and their cultural variations, Ethnoscience and cognitive mapping,

Unit IV

Unit IV – Theories in Cognitive Anthropology
Schema Theory
Cultural Consensus Theory
Cultural Consonance Theory

Unit V

Unit V – Contemporary Applications and Future Directions
Use of Cognitive anthropology in various fields – research, ethnography, education, cross-cultural learning and adaptations in human-nature interactions

Course Objectives & Outcomes

Prerequisite: Good reading and writing skills in English; Basic understanding of cognitive anthropology and its relevance in society and culture

Course Objectives:

  1. To gain a basic understanding of the emergence of cognitive anthropology: Ethnosemantics, Ethnoscience, Ethnolinguistics, and New Ethnography
  2. To develop a working knowledge of the relevance of cognitive anthropology in societal development
    – linguistic relativity
  3. To gain an overview of the different principal concepts in cognitive anthropology
  4. To understand the various theoretical approaches in cognitive anthropology
  5. To understand the application of cognitive anthropology

Course Outcomes:

  • CO1: Acquire knowledge of the emergence of cognitive anthropology from linguistics and linking between human thought processes and the physical and ideational aspects of culture
  • CO2: Understand the essential concept of linguistic relativity and influential figures in cognitive anthropology
  • CO3: Gain insights into various principal concepts like culture model, folk taxonomies, knowledge structures, prototypes, Symbolic Systems
  • CO4: Gain information on various theories- schema, cultural Consensus Theory, etc CO5: Understand the use of cognitive anthropology in – education and pedagogy,
    cross-cultural communication, cognitive ecology


  • Develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between cognition, thought and culture in society and the emergence of cognitive anthropology.
  • Learn about the importance of Sapir–Whorf hypothesis or linguistic relativity hypothesis and other important figures in the field.
  • Understand the concepts ingrained in cognitive anthropology.
  • Develop an understanding of the various critical theories in cognitive anthropology.
  • Grasp how cognitive anthropology is applied in education and pedagogy and cross-cultural communication and Cultural adaptation; cognition in Human-environment interaction from a cognitive perspective.

Course objectives CO-Program outcome PO – Mappings


Evaluation Pattern:

Assessment Internal External
Midterm Exam 30
*Continuous Assessment


End Semester 50

*CA – Can be Quizzes, Assignment, Projects, and Reports, and Seminar


  • D’Andrade, R. G. (1995). The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge University Press. Geertz, C. (1973).
  • The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press.
  • Bateson, G. (2002). Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Hampton Press.

Key Papers

  • Tyler, S. A. (1969). Cognitive Anthropology. Ethnology, 8(2), 125–152. DOI: 10.2307/3772907
  • Harris, M. (1968). The Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture. Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
  • Gell, A. (1998). Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory. Clarendon Press.
  • Sperber, D. (1985). Anthropology and Psychology: Towards an Epidemiology of Representations.
  • Man, 20(1), 73–89. DOI: 10.2307/2802054
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). The Metaphorical Structure of the Human Conceptual System.
  • Cognitive Science, 4(2), 195–208. DOI: 10.1207/s15516709cog0402_4
  • Nisbett, R. E. (2003). The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why. Free Press.
  • Shweder, R. A., & Bourne, E. J. (1984). Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-Culturally? In
  • R. A. Shweder & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion (pp. 158–199). Cambridge University Press.
  • Dressler, William W., Mauro C. Balieiro, and José E. dos Santos (2018). “What you know, what you do, and how you feel: Cultural competence, cultural consonance, and psychological distress.” Frontiers in psychology 8 : 2355.
  • Veissière, S. P., Constant, A., Ramstead, M. J., Friston, K. J., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2020). Thinking through other minds: A variational approach to cognition and culture. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43.

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