Roger Bartra - Human consciousness occurs not only in the brain, but externally, as part of a interlinked society, whose symbolism can be deciphered in the culture of the world around us.

             Anthropology of the Brain              


Roger Bartra, Anthropology of the Brain: Consciousness, Culture, and Free Will, Trans. by Gusti Gould, Cambridge University Press, 2014.                                
read it at Google Books


In this unique exploration of the mysteries of the human brain, Roger Bartra shows that consciousness is a phenomenon that occurs not only in the mind but also in an external network, a symbolic system. He argues that the symbolic systems created by humans in art, language, in cooking or in dress, are the key to understanding human consciousness. Placing culture at the centre of his analysis, Bartra brings together findings from anthropology and cognitive science and offers an original vision of the continuity between the brain and its symbolic environment. The book is essential reading for neurologists, cognitive scientists and anthropologists alike.


"Anthropologist by training, and today a leading public intellectual and social theorist in Latin America, Roger Bartra here dextrously argues that the plasticity of cultural and social networks facilitate a "prosthetic" connection to the brain and consciousness." - Matthew Gutmann


"A daring and brilliant hypothesis, and yet another intellectual debt we owe to one of the premier thinkers of our time." - James D. Faubion


"… this ground-breaking anthropological study reveals the brain as an external - social - organ."
John Kraniauskas


"… a thorough and provocative analysis of the nature of consciousness and free will from the perspective of an anthropologist with a deep knowledge of neuroscience, sociology and philosophy. The author challenges reductionist views on these perennial themes, while highlighting the importance of cultural and social networks in the definition and in the genesis of consciousness. This must-read authoritative work is a valuable reference source for neuroscientists, philosophers, as well as social and cultural anthropologists. No doubt this book will stir up a much needed debate, particularly within the neuroscience community; neurobiologists in general consider consciousness exclusively as a phenomenon that takes place inside the brain of the subject, producing awareness of the self, but largely ignoring "culture" and "the other"." - F. Javier Alvarez-Leefmans








Roger Bartra, Blood, Ink, and Culture: Miseries and Splendors of the Post-Mexican Condition, Trans. by Mark  A. Healey, Duke UP, 2002.


Pens and swords, words and blows: for Roger Bartra, the culture of ink and the culture of blood offer two contrasting approaches to the political transformations of our time. In this compilation of essays, Bartra thinks through these transformations by tracing the complex interplay between popular culture, nationalist ideology, civil society, and the state in contemporary Mexico.

Written with verve over a period of twenty years, these essays—most translated into English here for the first time—suggest why Bartra has become one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals. The essays cover a broad range of topics, from the canonical forms of Mexican culture to the meaning of postnational identity in a globalizing age, from the repercussions of the 1994 Zapatista uprising to the 2000 election of Vicente Fox and the end of the PRI’s seven-decade rule. Across this range of topics, Bartra imparts astute insights into a critical period of transition in Mexican history, stressing throughout the importance of democracy, the complexity of identity, and the vibrancy of the Left. In Blood, Ink, and Culture, he provides a stimulating inside look at political and intellectual life in the southern reaches of North America.



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