in The Power of the Between

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226775340
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226775364 | DOI:

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According to the Songhay theory of knowledge, a person must learn something important through her or his experience. Put another way, you learn cumulatively by being in your body in the world. This epistemology, then, is one that does not separate mind from body or experience from learning. The mind develops through the body's experience-in-the-world. In the Songhay view, the young mind is as undeveloped as the young body. Both need to be exercised to grow. Understanding a Songhay conception of knowledge begs a central question for those who live anthropology: how do we account for experience, knowing, and being in anthropology? Because fieldwork is an anthropological rite of passage, we, more than other social scientists, stress the link between doing and knowing. When it comes to being, though, anthropologists, like most other scholars, tend not to write about how doing and knowing have shaped their lives. There is the aforementioned gap between the “being-there,” the field experience, and “being-here,” the institutional experience of the professional scholar.

Keywords: Songhay; theory of knowledge; learning; mind; body; anthropology

Chapter.  2433 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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