IAS Seminar by Prof. John Sutton, Macquarie University.
Photo by José Martín Ramírez Carrasco on Unsplash
This informal talk aims to open up some puzzles for interdisciplinary enquiry into relations between memory and navigation or spatial cognition. Research on these relations is lively and flourishing in cognitive neuroscience and in social and cultural theory alike, but attempts to integrate approaches face significant challenges. While I hope that study of ‘distributed cognition’ in ‘cognitive ecologies’ may offer some ways forward, it is easy to feel stuck at roadblocks between distinct disciplinary sectors. So I raise three questions to concentrate the search for passageways. How do we acknowledge and study the interactions or entanglements of different forms of remembering in the context of place and memory? What changes when we study deep embodied familiarity with specific landscapes or cityscapes, rather than navigation of new or artificial environments? And, what is the current status of anthropological critiques of the notions of ‘mental’ or ‘cognitive maps’? One natural direction for pluralist research is to try pooling distinct methods and resources in approaching rich case studies of navigation and memory in real places, together.