CFP for AAA 2015 session: Experiments in Ethnographies of Child Development

CFP for the 2015 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Denver
Session: Experiments in Ethnographies of Child Development: Theoretical and Methodological Entanglements between Anthropology and Psychology 

This session examines the various ways anthropologists incorporate experimental methods in ethnographic fieldwork to study child development. It is situated within the larger theoretical and methodological adventure of bridging anthropology and psychology ininvestigating the dynamics of culture and mind in childhood, a critical phase of human development. 

Integration of ethnographic methods and controlled experiments is not new, but in cultural anthropology only few scholars have carried it out. In recent years, anthropologists have called for a re-engagement with trends in the psychological and cognitive sciences, and emphasized that anthropology has an important contribution to make in the interdisciplinary study of child development and human development (Astuti and Bloch 2010, 2012; Bloch 2005, 2012; Kronenfeld 2012; Sahlins 2011; Sperber 1996). More generally, scholars in both fields have stressed the need for a rapprochement in which both anthropologists and psychologists appreciate human beings’ intertwined psychological-social nature (Bender, Hutchins, and Medin 2010; Luhrmann 2006; Quinn 2006). Child development is a central “test field” in this exciting endeavor. Leading scholars in psychological anthropology have discovered common features of childrearing across cultures that are based on universal psychological mechanisms (Quinn 2005); anthropologists and psychologists have worked together to combine experimental methods with ethnographic fieldwork to investigate conceptual development (Astuti, Solomon, and Carey 2004); moreover, anthropologists have taken on the role of critically engaging with and reassessing influential psychological theories, such as attachment theory (Bowlby 1969, 1982; Ainsworth1979), using ethnographic evidence (Quinn and Mageo 2013). 

We look for papers that bring together solid ethnography and approaches and methods from psychology to address questions related to any aspect of social, cognitive, emotional or educational development of children. We welcome papers with wide ranging motivations, which might include but are not limited to, engaging with evolutionary theories of human development or dominant theories of child development through cross-cultural comparison; combining experimental and ethnographic work to reach fine-grained and systematic understanding of specific issues of social equity and learning environments, schooling, mental health, development of interpersonal relationships and so forth.

Please submit your abstract (max. 250 words) by 29 March to 

Anni Kajanus
Marie Curie Research Fellow
Department of Anthropology
London School of Economics and Political Sciences
Jing Xu
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Early Childhood Cognition Lab
University of Washington