Maurice Block, "Shared Imagination in the Morning Greetings of Villagers"

Event Date: 

Monday, June 4, 2018 - 4:00pm
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 6:00pm

Event Location: 

  • 6020 HSSB McCune Conference Room

Maurice Bloch, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, is a cultural anthropologist, who has written extensively on religion, and prominent advocate for rebuilding the links between the cognitive sciences and anthropology. He carried out fieldwork in Madagascar and other parts of the world, including Japan, with a particular interest in topics such as imagination, ritual, cultural transmission, and the nature of the social among humans and other animals. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience (Cambridge 1991); Essays on Cultural Transmission (Berg, 2005); and most recently, Anthropology and the Cognitive Challenge (Cambridge, 2012) and In and Out of Each Other’s Bodies: Theory of Mind, Evolution, Truth, and the Nature of the Social (Paradigm, 2012).  He has taught in the US, France, and Sweden and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Maurice Bloch’s visit is co-sponsored by the Religion, Experience, and Mind Lab Group, the Department of Religious Studies, the Capps Center for Ethics and Public Life, and the Department of Anthropology.

Here are details regarding the different events.

June 4th, 4pm, Public Lecture, IHC McCune Conference Room.

Shared imagination in the morning greetings of villagers: the implications for human evolution

The lecture will argue the great potential size of human societies, in contrast to those of other primates, is due to a kind of shared imagination. This imagination consists of time transcendent systems of fixed roles and groups of which kinship and religion are important examples. Such a conclusion raises the difficult question of how it is possible for imagination to have practical social effects. The answer proposed will be that the shared imaginary emerges in normal life at certain moments yet is still governed by the potential of imagination. The lecture will be illustrated by Bloch’s experience of an isolated village in Madagascar.

June 5th, 6:00-9:00pm, Graduate Seminar with Maurice Bloch, Digital Arts and Humanities Commons. This seminar is part of INT 200C, a workshop on Cognitive Science and the Humanities: Bridging the Divide.   This workshop is focused on recent work in cognitive anthropology that offers a potential theoretical and methodological bridge between the cognitive sciences and the humanities (and humanistic social sciences).  Interest faculty and students are welcome to sit in on this and other meetings of the workshop. 

For more information, contact Ann Taves (