Past events

Programme in culture and cognition

Why is it always 'us' and 'them'? On the Natural History of Thinking Through Groups

Thursday 6 December 2007, 6.30-8pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House

SPEAKER: Professor Lawrence Hirschfeld
CHAIR: Dr Rita Astuti

For over a century anthropology, psychology and evolutionary biology have had a fitful and often uneasy relationship. This event presents recent findings about representations of social categories that have potential relevance for all three disciplines.

Lawrence Hirschfeld is Professor of Psychology and Anthropology at the New School for Social Research, New York. 



'Psychology as a social science' public lecture

The Human Adaptation for Culture

Thursday 8 November 2007, 6.30-8pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House

SPEAKER: Professor Michael Tomasello
CHAIR: Dr Sandra Jovchelovitch

Human beings are biologically adapted for cultural life in ways that other primates are not. This lecture explores humans' unique motivations and cognitive skills.

Michael Tomasello is co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany.



Consciousness, self and society lent term 2007 research seminars

In the Lent Term I shall be giving five classes, on the subject of Consciousness. These will alternate with the Culture and Cognition seminar, 4.00 - 6.00 on Wednesdays, in the CPNSS Seminar Room, T 206. The first class will be on 10 January 2007.

I shall be addressing the issue of what consciousness IS and why it MATTERS. The discussion will take off from my book "Seeing Red: a Study of Consciousness" (HUP, 2006), but will go further. I shall be seeking feedback from the class as to how to the develop the ideas about Consciousness and Selfhood in this book.

This class is officially listed as Research Seminar for the LSE Anthropology Department. But other graduate students - especially in Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology - are welcome to attend.

Students' participation in this class will not be graded. The class is meant more as an intellectual treat.

Nicholas Humphrey
LSE School Professor
Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science



Viewing of Nicholas Humphrey's film

The family that walks on all fours 

The family that walks on all fours

November 15 2006

With an introduction by Nick Humphrey and discussion of the film

Press release (March 2006):

Millions of years ago, our distant ancestors stood up and never walked on all fours again. For many, it is the moment we made the leap from ape to man. But, last year scientists discovered a family that never made this leap and is alive today. With exclusive access to the family, this film tells their extraordinary story and examines the controversy their discovery has caused in the scientific community.

One of the scientists leading the research into the family is LSE evolutionary psychologist, Professor Nicholas Humphrey. He says: "This could be hugely important – a living example of how our ancestors walked before they became bipedal."

The documentary features interviews with scientists from across the world and their response has been mixed. American palaeoanthropologists think the family's skeletons could hold vital clues about the origin of man. A Turkish neurophysiologist believes they are wholesale genetic throwbacks – a living 'missing link'. Whilst German geneticists believe that they hold the key to a breakthrough gene for bipedality. UK researchers, however, contend that no single faulty gene could produce the first human quadrupeds the modern world has ever seen.

Producer Jemima Harrison, says: "The family raises profound questions about what it is to be human. They walk like animals and that's very disturbing at first. "But we were also very moved by this family's tremendous warmth and humanity."

The family is very poor, has had little medical help and lives in a small village in Turkey. The parents, who are closely related, have had 19 children. Most were normal, but six were born with what looks like brain damage. Five of these, aged between 18 and 34, walk quadrupedally. The family are treated as outcasts by many of the villagers.

The programme is an intimate portrait of their everyday life. It asks what should be done to help the family and whether it is possible for the quadrupeds to learn to walk.



International workshop funded by the ESRC

Bringing together anthropological and psychological methods in the study of cognitive development and cultural transmission

6 and 7 January 2006
London School of Economics and Political Science


  • Catherine Allerton, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Rita Astuti, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Clark Barrett, Department of Anthropology, UCLA
  • Nicolas Baumard, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS
  • Maurice Bloch, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Russ Burnett, Department of Psychology, Hebrew University
  • Susan Carey, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
  • Fabrice Clement, Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques, Lausanne University
  • Gergely Csibra, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College
  • Jules Davidoff, Centre for Cognition, Computation & Culture, Goldsmiths College
  • Daniel Fessler, Department of Anthropology, UCLA
  • Bradley Franks, Department of Social Psychology, LSE
  • Peggy Froerer, Department of Anthropology, Brunel University
  • Rochel Gelman, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science
  • Paul Harris, Graduate School of Education, Harvard
  • Nicholas Humphrey, CPNSS, LSE
  • Nicola Knight, Culture & Cognition, Michigan University & CPNSS, LSE
  • Elena Lieven, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Hugo Mercier, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS
  • Aude Michelet, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Eleonora Montuschi, CPNSS, LSE
  • Stephen Nugent, Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College
  • Denis Regnier, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Paulo Sousa, Culture & Cognition, Michigan University & ICC, Belfast
  • Dan Sperber, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS
  • Charles Stafford, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Jamie Tehrani, Centre for the Evolutionary Analysis of Cultural Diversity, UCL
  • Christina Toren, Department of Anthropology, Brunel University
  • Robert, Turner, Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, UCL
  • Chih-yuan Wang, Department of Anthropology, LSE
  • Sandra Waxman, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University
  • Andrew Wells, Department of Social Psychology, LSE
  • Harvey Whitehouse, School of Anthropology, University of Oxford




  • Rita Astuti
    Interdisciplinary collaborations: The view from anthropology
  • Sandra Waxman
    Core folkbiological concepts from a developmental and cross-cultural perspective: why is the concept 'alive' so elusive?
  • Peggy Froerer
    Understanding illness causality in a rural Indian tribal community
  • Elena Lieven
    Researching in teams: anthropology, developmental psychology and linguistics
  • Nicola Knight
    Cognitive origins of cultural order: the impact of psychological theory on anthropological concerns
  • Paul Harris
    The child's construction of reality - via testimony
  • Maurice Bloch
    Interpreting the false belief task: Malagasy villagers and psychologists compared
  • Dan Fessler
    Blending methods and making trade-offs: Investigating shame in two disparate cultures
  • Charles Stafford
    Linguistic and cultural variables in the psychology of numeracy
  • Rochel Gelman
    Are developmental psychologists that different from anthropologists?