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Marchand, Trevor H.J. (2010) 'Embodied Cognition and Communication: studies with British fine woodworkers.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16 (s1). pp. 100-120.

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The approach to embodied cognition and communication presented in this study of carpentry practices among English woodwork tutors and trainees is an agent-centred one. I describe the cognitive operations that make possible both the enactment and understanding of practice by focussing on the way that received somatic information is ‘interpreted’ from the body. It is proposed that the flow of human movement, like the stream of words in an utterance, is segmentable in that it can be broken down into component actions, gestures and postures that unfold dynamically in space and time. The point of my argument is that physical practice communicates and therefore, like language, its component elements can be parsed by an observing party and acquired as mental representations by their motor domains of cognition. Motor representations yield embodied simulations of actions, or they can be systematically re-combined with the effect of producing physical imitation or novel articulations of knowledge-in-practice. Notably the compositional nature of mental representations underlies the ongoing and novel production of knowledge.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: embodied cognition, communication, apprenticeship, dynamic syntax, woodworking, carpentry, London, craft
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN: 13590987
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2009 11:46
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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