Archaeology of mind; Creativity, cognition and material culture; Anthropological archaeology; Anthropological and archaeological theory; Anthropology of making; Process archaeology; Human becoming; Material engagement theory; Material semiotics; Materiality and mental health.
My primary interest lies in the study of the interaction between cognition and material culture. I am studying the effects of materiality in human cognitive life (past and present). A major aspect of my work has been the development of Material Engagement Theory (MET) which forms the basis of my first authored book, How Things Shape the Mind (MIT Press) (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-things-shape-mind). I have been addressing empirical and theoretical questions on topics extending from early stone tools and personal decoration, to the emergence of symbolic technologies of more recent periods, to the latest innovations in digital techniques and media.
My approach to research has been intra- and cross-disciplinary. I am using the insights that we gain from the archaeological and anthropological study of material culture to establish a critical dialogue with the broader field of cognitive sciences about the boundaries, the ontology, and the uniqueness of human intelligence and its evolution. I have been trying to understand and to articulate the basic principles of the creative entanglement between the plasticity of the human mind and the plasticity of the material forms and techniques that we make (metaplasticity).
I am currently Principal Investigator of HANDMADE: Understanding Creative Gesture in Pottery Making (https://handmade.web.ox.ac.uk/home) funded through a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant. The HANDMADE project is focusing on the cognitive ecology and poetics of clay. HANDMADE attempts a comparative anthropological exploration of the creative dialogue between hands and clay through multi-sited participant observation in several traditional ceramic workshops spread around mainland Greece and the Islands.
I am teaching undergraduate tutorials in Archaeology and Anthropology (both at prelims and finals) and I am co-Director of Studies for undergraduates at Hertford College.
I am teaching the module on cognitive archaeology on the MSc Archaeology course. I am also supervising research students in the general areas of Cognitive, Anthropological and Theoretical archaeology. I welcome enquiries from individuals wishing to undertake doctoral or post-doctoral research in those fields, especially from students with an interest in cognitive archaeology and material engagement theory.
An Anthropological Guide to the Art and Philosophy of Mirror Gazing
Koukouti, MD, Malafouris, L
What does it mean and what does it take to find oneself the mirror? This book provides a comparative anthropological enquiry into the unity and diversity of mirror gazing.
How does thinking relate to tool making?
<jats:p> How the boundaries of the mind should be drawn with respect to action and the material world is a core research question that cognitive archaeology shares with contemporary cognitive sciences. The study of hominin technical thinking, as in the case of stone tool making, is a good way to bring that question to the fore. This article argues that archaeologists who study lithic artefacts and their transformations over the course of human evolution are uniquely well positioned to contribute to the ongoing debate about the marks of the mental. Adopting the material engagement approach, I propose to replace the internalist vision of mentality, that is, the vision of a brain-bound mind that is using the body to execute and externalise preconceived mental plan through the stone, with an ecological-enactive vision of participatory mentality where bodily acts and materials act together to generate rather than merely execute thought processes. I argue that the latter participatory view changes the geography of the cognitive and offers a better description for the continuity of mind and matter that we see in the lithic record. </jats:p>
Mind, Time, and Material Engagement
MALAFOURIS, L, GOSDEN, C
Material imagination: An anthropological perspective.
MALAFOURIS, L, KOUKOUTI, MD
Thinking as "Thinging": Psychology With Things
CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE
material-engagement theory, cognitive archaeology, things, materiality, pottery making