Culture as Comfort: A New Book by Sarah Mahler

Looking for a neuroanthropology book that is accessible to lower level undergraduates and the general public?

Need a book that draws on current literature to explain how infants and young children learn culture and that can reach a wide variety of readers?

Sarah Mahler, a professor of anthropology at Florida International University, has penned the new Culture as Comfort. This book examines a central conundrum of human life – we grow up in a specific society, and that way of life and thinking often comes to seem natural. It’s comfortable.

Yet increasingly we are being pushed out of our cultural comfort zone through globalization, technology, migration, and other dynamic forces shaping our world today. Amidst all this diversity, it’s often easy to go back to what feels “natural”. But it comes at a cost – fewer opportunities for learning and for rich engagement with the variety of life that surrounds us every day. Mahler aims to change that dynamic. Her book will help readers learn more about how we acquire culture so we can better understand our own cultural talents and embrace new cultural experiences.

As Mahler writes:

If you possess culture, were you born with it? Most people will answer no to this question but then have little knowledge about how they acquired culture other than to say they acquired it in childhood. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know more about how children learn culture? Do teenagers share the same culture as that of their parents? If not, where do they get their one culture since we acquire culture from those around us?

Hopefully you begin to see that culture is a very worthwhile concept to understand. It’s my mission to open up the black box of culture so that we all understand it better and be more creative cultural practitioners.

Doug Massey, professor of sociology at Princeton, writes:

The time has come to bring social scientific understanding of culture into the 21st century, and Sarah Mahler’s book leads the way in its conceptualization of culture as embodied in the brain and recalled implicitly to shape everyday behavior. In an era when neuroscience and cognitive psychology are adding insights into our understanding of culture at a breathtaking pace, I’m glad that Sarah Mahler has answered the call to update our understanding of this critical concept.

You can “Meet the Book” here. Mahler is on a book tour, so you might be able to meet her in person. She’ll be part of the “Brains in the Wild” session on neuroanthropology next month at the American Anthropological Association meeting.

Culture as Comfort has an extensive website, where you can learn more about the book, download sample chapters, and find out more about Sarah Mahler and her work.

Culture as Comfort Book on Amazon

Culture as Comfort Kindle

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2 Responses to Culture as Comfort: A New Book by Sarah Mahler

  1. Pingback: Neuroanthropology at the Annual AAA Meeting in San Francisco | Neuroanthropology

  2. Pingback: Summer Institute on Cultural Neuroscience 2013 | Neuroanthropology

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