Enacting Culture: The Case of Depictions

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    Pragmatic approaches can effectively address questions of cultural dynamics-how culture is renewed, contested, or changed in historical situations. The practice-oriented direction of much of contemporary cognitive science offers an emerging opportunity to more fully integrate thought and emotion into anthropological pragmatism. Here I urge attention to a realm of enacted culture that illustrates how certain interactive processes bring cultural conventions into a communicative environment where they are renewed, transformed, created. As an example, I discuss depictions, improvisational performances in which speakers use material resources such as their hands or voices to formulate and portray thoughts. In a close analysis of three short narratives, I show that depictions are used by speakers to help to create an affect-rich environment in which cultural conventions are introduced into interactional space, whence they become subject to negotiation. It is not only in these spontaneous and improvisational practices that cognition and culture unfold in time as a dialectical interplay of mind and environment; this also occurs in stylized formats such as public rituals and narratives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)446-447
    JournalCurrent Anthropology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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