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Current Positions

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, California State University, Northridge

Assistant Professor, Department of Central American Studies, California State University, Northridge

Affiliated Researcher, Centro de Investigación Científica y Cultural, San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Affiliated Researcher, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark

External Collaborator, Experimental Anthropology Lab, University of Connecticut

 

Education

Ph.D.

Anthropology & Cognitive Science

University of California, San Diego

M.A.

Anthropology

University of California, San Diego

B.A.

Psychology, Philosophy & Religious Studies

Stanford University

 

Research Interests

Tz’utujil; Cognitive Anthropology; Divination; Ritual; Latin America; Pan-Maya Movement; Indigenous Rights; Decision-Making; Materiality; Distributed Cognition; Cognitive Ecology; Intersubjectivity; Interobjectivity; Joint Action; Epistemic Actions; Extended Mind; Experimental Anthropology

 

Dissertation

Divination & Decision-Making: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition in the Guatemalan Highlands

Advisor: Steven M. Parish

This research examines how pajooneem, or tz’ite’ seed divination, a type of divination practiced by the highland Maya of Guatemala, facilitates decision-making and distributes cognition between client(s), diviner, and ritual techniques.  This form of divination exhibits a stylized routine that draws on important cultural symbols, including the 260-day ritual calendar known throughout Mesoamerica.  Because it is both a ritual and a cognitive practice, tz’ite’ seed divination grounds decision-making in a perennially relevant set of cultural values.

 

Publications

------- (Article)

“Maya Divination: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition.Journal of Cognition and Culture (in press)

2016 (Article)

“It depends who is watching: 3-D agent cues increase fairness” (with Jan Krátký, Dimitris Xygalatas, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Paul Reddish). PLoS ONE 11(2):e0148845

2016 (Article)

“The Co-Essential Self.Journal of Consciousness Studies: Special Issue on the Self 23(1-2):283-301. Eds. Nini Praetorius and Simon Høffding

2016 (Book Chapter)

“Stones of Light: The Use of Crystals in Maya Divination.” In Emiliano Gallaga & Marc Blainey, eds. Manufactured Light: Mirrors in the Mesoamerican Realm.  Boulder: University Press of Colorado

2015 (Blog Post)

“Maya Spirituality: A photographic exploration of contemporary Maya ritual in Guatemala." Web blog post. Material Religions. 9 September 2015.

2015

(Article)

“Doing Rituals: An Enactivist Reading of Durkheim's Elementary Forms." Intellectica 63(1):37-48

2015

(Article)

“Building Trust: Heart Rate Synchrony and Arousal during joint action increased by Public Goods Game” (with Panagiotis Mitkidis, Andreas Roepstorff, and Sebastian Wallot). Physiology & Behavior 149:101-106 doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.033

2015

(Commentary)

"Shapeshifters: Comment on Ebisch & Gallese's 'A Neurobiological Perspective on the Nature of Self-Other Relationships in Schizophrenia.'" Journal of Consciousness Studies 22(1-2):246-250

2014

(Book Chapter)

“Waffengeschichte” (with Niels Johannsen and Davor Löffler).  In Gerd Jütemann, ed. Entwicklungen der Menschheit. Integrative Humanwissenschaft als fächerverbindende Forschungskooperative.  Eichengrund: Pabst Science Publishers

2014 (Book Chapter)

“Materializing Mind: The Role of Objects in Cognition and Culture” (with Kristian Tylén).  In Mattia Gallotti & John Michael, eds. Perspectives on Social Ontology and Social CognitionNew York: Springer

2014 (Article)

“Introduction: Technologies of the Mind” (with Niels Johannsen and Andreas Roepstorff).  Journal of Cognition and Culture 14(5):335-343

2014 (Article)

“Culture's Building Blocks: Investigating Cultural Evolution in a LEGO construction task” (with Sebastian Wallot, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Andreas Roepstorff). Frontiers in Psychology 5(1017):365-376 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01017

2014

(Book Review)

Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate by Elizabeth Hill Boone. Material Culture 46(2):76-78

2014

(Book Review)

Judaic Technologies of the Word by Gabriel Levy. Numen 61(4):444-447

2014 (Blog Post)

“Hallucinogens/Entheogens." Web blog post. Material Religions. 10 September 2014.

2013

(Abstract)

“Beyond Synchrony: Complementarity and Asynchrony in Joint Action” (with Rick Dale, Riccardo Fusaroli, Dorthe Døjbak Håkonsson, Patrick Healy, Dan Mønster, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Kristian Tylén). In Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth, eds. Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society

2013

(Article)

“Maya Religion.” In Anne L. C. Runehov & Lluis Oviedo, eds. Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. New York: Springer Reference

2013

(Article)

“Native American Religions.” In Anne L. C. Runehov & Lluis Oviedo, eds. Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. New York: Springer Reference

2012

(Article)

“What is Intersubjectivity?” THERE: Journal of Design 8:72-77

2012

(Book Chapter)

“Tongues of Men and Angels: Assessing the Neural Correlates of Glossolalia.” In David Cave & Rebecca Sachs Norris, eds. The Body and Religion: Modern Science and the Construction of Religious Meaning. Leiden: Brill

2010

(Book Review)

Introduction to Consciousness by Arne Dietrich. Anthropology of Consciousness 21(2):221-223

2009

(Book Review)

The Ancient Spirituality of the Modern Maya by Thomas Hart. The Latin Americanist 53(2):96-97

2008

(Book Review)

Maya Calendar Origins by Prudence M. Rice. The Latin Americanist 52(3):100-102

2008

(Book Review)

The World of Shamanism by Roger Walsh.  Ethos Winter Issue 38(1):1-2

2007

(MA Thesis)

Religion as Representations: Towards a Reconciliation of Schema Theory and the Cognitive Science of Religion.  UCSD

2007

(Article)

Golomb, BA, McGraw JJ, Evans, MA, Dimsdale JE. “Physician Response to Patient Reports of Drug Adverse Effects: Implications for Patient-Targeted Adverse Effect Surveillance.” Drug Safety 30(8):669-675

2006

(Book Review)

Mortal Minds by G.M. Woerlee. Science & Theology News  July/August 2006

2006

(Book Review)

The G.O.D. Experiments by Gary Schwartz. Science & Theology News  July/August 2006

2006

(Article)

Golomb, BA, McGraw JJ.  “Lack of Physician Response Toward Perceived Statin Adverse Events.” Circulation 111(14):255

2004

(Book)

McGraw, John J.  Brain & Belief: An Exploration of the Human Soul. Del Mar, CA: AEGIS PRESS

 

 

Lectures and Conferences

2016

“Ritual Ecology.” Cognitive and Evolutionary Perspectives on Rituals. CSU Northridge. Northridge, CA

2016

“The Action Orientation: An Emerging Paradigm?” Human Being, Society, Culture: Multidisciplinary Reflections on Essences and Research Paradigms. University. University of Kiel. Kiel, Germany

2015

"Divination & Decision-Making: An Experimental Investigation of a Maya Divination Ritual in Guatemala" (with Dimitris Xygalatas and Ronald Fischer). Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Atlanta, GA

2015

“Known Stone: Agency and Mineralization in Maya Ritual.” Connect and Divide: The Practice Turn in Media Studies. Fraueninsel im Chiemsee, Germany

2015

"Transnational Spiritualities of Central America.” Lecture for CSU Northridge class, World Religions. Northridge, CA

2015

“Contemporary Maya Spirituality.” Lecture for CSU Northridge class, Religion, Logic & Media. Northridge, CA

2014

La Vara: Divining Bundle of the Highland Maya Ritual Specialist.” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. San Diego, CA

2014

“Material Culture and Cognition.” Lecture for Aarhus University class, Material Religion. Aarhus, Denmark

2014

“Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition in the Guatemalan Highlands.” Lecture for University of Copenhagen class, Embodied & Embedded Cognition. Copenhagen, Denmark

2014

“Distributed Cognition.” Lecture for University of Copenhagen class, Embodied & Embedded Cognition. Copenhagen, Denmark

2014

"Quantifying Regularities in the Use of a Maya Ritual Object." Religion, Cognition and Culture Research Group. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2014

(Poster) “3-Dimensional Agent Representations Increase Generosity in a Naturalistic Setting” (with Jan Krátký, Dimitris Xygalatas, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Paul Reddish).  5th Annual Meeting of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. Brno, Czech Republic

2014

“Religious Materiality Affects Prosocial Behavior” (with Jan Krátký).  The Bodily and Material Cultures of Religious Subjectivation. London

2013

“Distributed, Extended, External: Conceptualizing Agency through a Maya Divination Ritual.” 112th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Chicago, IL

2013

“Anthropological Research: From Theory to Practice (with an Excursus on Ethnographic Research in Guatemala).” Mauritius Institute of Education.  Reduit, Mauritius

2013

“Beyond Synchrony: Coordinated Hands and Hearts in a Complex Joint Action Task” (with Panagiotis Mitkidis). 35th Annual Cognitive Science Conference. Berlin, Germany

2013

“Anthropomorphic Representations: Investigating Proximate Mechanisms of Setting on Cooperative Behaviour” (with Jan Krátky). 4th Annual Meeting of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. Berlin, Germany

2013

“Anthropology: From Theory to Practice." Commission for Arts and Culture, Rodrigues Regional Assembly. Rodrigues, Mauritius

2013

(Poster) “Beyond Synchrony: Coordinated Hands and Hearts in a Complex Joint Action Task” (with Sebastian Wallot, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Andreas Roepstorff). Minds in Common: Second Aarhus-Paris on Coordination and Common Ground. Paris, France

2013

(Poster) “Beyond Synchrony: Coordinated Hands and Hearts in a Complex Joint Action Task” (with Sebastian Wallot, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Andreas Roepstorff). Embodied Inter-Subjectivity: From the 1st Person to the 2nd Person Perspective. Aegina, Greece

2013

(Poster) “The Nawales Speak: The Semiotics of Maya ‘Co-Essences’ and the Doctrine of Signatures.” The Eighth Conference of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2013

“Divination and Decision-Making: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition.” Masaryk University Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion. Masaryk University. Brno, Czech Republic

2013

“Methodological Questions for Studying Cognition in the Wild.” Università degli Studi "G. d'Annunzio" Chieti-Pescara. Chieti, Italy

2012

Rajawaliil: Lords of Place in the Guatemalan Highlands.” 111th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. San Francisco, CA

2012

“Peyote: The Use of a Psychoactive Cactus in Religion and Ritual.” Lecture for Aarhus University class, Huichol Religion. Aarhus, Denmark

2012

“Trails of Cooperation: Normativity, Synchrony, and Physiology in LEGO Construction Tasks" (presented with Kristian Tylén). Objects in Mind: First Aarhus-Paris Conference in Social Ontology and Cognition. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2012

(Poster) “The LEGO Creator Race: Joint Action in a Building Task” (with Sebastian Wallot and Andreas Roepstorff). Objects in Mind: First Aarhus-Paris Conference in Social Ontology and Cognition. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2012

(Poster) “La Vara: Divinatory Instrument and Symbol of Authority of the Highland Maya Ritual Specialist.” Objects in Mind: First Aarhus-Paris Conference in Social Ontology and Cognition. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2012

“A Synopsis of the LEGO Turkey Study and the Role of Distributed Cognition in the Study of Culture.” LEGO Cultures of Creativity Seminar. Vejle, Denmark

2012

“Cooperation and the Division of Labor” (presented with Sebastian Wallot). LEGO Idea Conference. Billund, Denmark

2012

“Distributed Cognition, Cognitive Ethnography, and the Study of Ritual.” Lecture for Aarhus University class, Wild Cognition. Aarhus, Denmark

2012

“Divination and Decision-Making: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition.” Interacting Minds Research Group. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2011

“Divination and Science: Divining Legacies in the Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact.” 110th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Montreal, Canada

2011

“Anthropomorphism: How the Mind Perceives a Universe of Intention and Design.” Lecture for UCSD class, The Cognitive Science of Religion & Superstition. La Jolla, CA

2011

“The Cognitive Science of Religion: where do we go from here?” Southern California Working Group on Culture, Cognition, and Religion. Pasadena, CA

2011

“Stones of Light: The Use of Crystals in Maya Divination.” Mirrors in the Prehispanic World session. 76th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Sacramento, CA

2011

“Praying for the Lake: The Ritual Healing of Lake Atitlán.” Indigenous Religions and Ecology and Religion co-sponsored session. American Academy of Religion-Western Division. Whittier, CA

2011

“The Power of Ritual Objects: Conceptual Blending and Material Anchors in the Cognition of Specialness.” Southern California Working Group on Culture, Cognition, and Religion. Riverside, CA

2011

“Neoteny: Where Biology and Culture Converge.” Lecture for UCSD class, Socio-cultural Foundations of Human Development. La Jolla, CA

2010

“Maximón: Indigenous Saint or Demon Lord?” Lecture for UCSD class, Devils and Demons in Christianity. La Jolla, CA

2010

"2012: How an Archaeological Ostracon Became a World Phenomenon.” Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Baltimore, MD

 

2010

“The Power of Ritual Objects: An Ethnographic Case Study of Maya Divinatory Practices.” Lecture for UCSB class, Evolutionary and Cognitive Science of Religion. Santa Barbara, CA

2010

“Kinds of Signs: Determining the Indexical Meanings of Tz’ite’ Seeds in a Form of Maya Divination.” UCSD Linguistic Anthropology Laboratory. La Jolla, CA

2010

“Challenges and Affordances in the Use of Evolutionary Theory for the Cognitive Science of Religion.” Southern California Working Group on Culture, Cognition, and Religion. Santa Barbara, CA

2010

“Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About 2012 but Were Afraid to Ask!” UCSD Anthropology Club. La Jolla, CA

2009

“Divination and Decision-Making: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition.” Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Denver, CO

2008

“Divination as Distributed Decision-Making.” Religious Ritual, Cognition and Culture Conference. Aarhus University. Aarhus, Denmark

2008

“What is Religion?” Lecture for UCSD class, Introduction to Anthropology. La Jolla, CA

2008

“Religion as Representations.” UCSD All-Grad Research Symposium. La Jolla, CA

2007

“Religion as Representations.” Cognitive Theory of Religion session. 106th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Washington, DC

2006

“The Brain & Belief.” Lecture for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, UCSD

2006

“Neuroscience and the Soul.” Lecture at The Book Works. Del Mar, CA

2005

“A History of the Soul.” Lecture at Earth Song Books. Del Mar, CA

 

 

Teaching Experience

2016

RS 150 "World Religions." CSUN

2016

RS 356 "Contemporary Religious Thought: Material Religion." CSUN

2016

CAS 309 "Ancient to Pre-modern History of Central America." CSUN

2015

RS 100 "Introduction to Religious Studies." CSUN

2015

RS 356 "Contemporary Religious Thought: Material Religion." CSUN

2015

CAS 367 "Contemporary Religious Movements in Central America." CSUN

2011

Teaching Assistant, Human Development Program, “Socio-cultural Foundations of Human Development.” UCSD

2010

Reader, Program for the Study of Religion, “Devils and Demons in Christianity.” UCSD

2009-2010

Teaching Assistant, Eleanor Roosevelt College Writing Program, “Making of the Modern World” (Six quarter sequence that combines training in composition with an interdisciplinary overview of world civilization). UCSD

2008

Teaching Assistant, Department of Anthropology, “Psychological Anthropology.” UCSD

2008

Teaching Assistant, Department of Anthropology, “Introduction to Anthropology.” UCSD

2007

Teaching Assistant, Department of Anthropology, “Debating Multiculturalism.” UCSD

2005-2007

Teaching Assistant, Eleanor Roosevelt College Writing Program, “Making of the Modern World.” UCSD

 

 

Fieldwork

2015

February-August San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2014

January

Pointe aux Piments and Quatre Bornes, Mauritius

2013

December

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2013

July-August

Rodrigues, Mauritius

2012

December

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2012

July

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2012

March

Ankara and Eskişehir, Turkey

2011

July-August

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2010

December

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2010

June-August

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2009

December

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2008

July-August 2009

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

2007

July-August

San Pedro La Laguna and environs, Sololá, Guatemala

 

 

Other Work Experience

2000-2005

Director of Statin Effects Study, Psychometrist, Phlebotomist, UCSD Statin Study. Supervisor: Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D.

1999

Psychological Technician, Laureate Psychiatric Hospital, Crisis Management Unit. Tulsa, OK

1995

Field Supervisor (summer), Public Health Project, Amigos de las Americas. Villarrica, Paraguay

1994

Volunteer (summer), Public Health Project, Amigos de las Americas. Guanajuato, Mexico

1992

Volunteer (summer), Public Health Project, Amigos de las Americas. Cuenca, Ecuador

 

 

Honors, Grants, and Fellowships

2015

Collaborative International Research Grant for "Divination & Decision-Making: Ritual Techniques of Distributed Cognition in the Guatemalan Highlands" (with Dimitris Xygalatas and Ron Fischer), American Academy of Religion, $4950

2011-2014

Research Fellowship, TESIS, A Marie Curie Actions Initial Training Network

2013

IMC Seed Grant for "Measuring Social Interaction" (with PI: Dimitris Xygalatas et al.), $16,000

2008

F.G. Bailey Fellowship, UCSD Department of Anthropology, $1905

2008

Summer Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (S-FLAS). Tz’utujil Mayan, San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, $4089

2007

Summer Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (S-FLAS). Tz’utujil Mayan, San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, $2640

 

 

Community Activities

2016

Ad hoc reviewer for Frontiers in Psychology

2015

Ad hoc reviewer for Material Religion

2015

Ad hoc reviewer for Transcultural Psychiatry

2014

2014

Developed Material Religions blog (with Urmila Mohan)

2014

Ad hoc reviewer for Cognitive Processing

2014

Ad hoc reviewer for Frontiers in Psychology

2013

Ad hoc reviewer for Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

2008-2012

Executive Committee Member-at-Large, Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness

2009-2012

Student Representative Caucus Secretary, American Anthropological Association

2011

2009-2011

Planning Committee, Southern California Working Group on Culture, Cognition, and Religion with Professor Ann Taves (UCSB Religious Studies) and Assistant Professor Rebekah Richert (UCR Psychology)

2009-2010

Peer advocate, GUIDE (Graduates United in the Interests of Diversity and Excellence

 

 

Languages

Spanish (advanced)  

Tz’utujil Mayan (intermediate)  

French (intermediate)

 

 

Webmaster

 

Professional Associations

American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
Assocation for Psychological Science
Cognitive Science Society
Guatemalan Scholars Network
International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion
International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
Society for American Archaeology
Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness
Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Society for Psychological Anthropology
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
Southern California Working Group on Culture, Cognition, and Religion

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