For Cultural Ecology 2017 we read Tim Ingold’s “To journey along a way of life” in The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. This reading accompanied the end of Kohn How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. This was for Cultural Ecology 2017. For a 2020 update, see the Journey class. In 2022 I revisited the Ingold chapter for a course on the History of Anthropological Thought and discussed wayfinding.

Ingold’s chapter asks us to consider what it really means to argue for the existence of a “cognitive map” or “mental map” installed in our heads. Does that really describe how people and other animals navigate their environment? But if people do not navigate through the world using “cognitive maps” or “mental maps,” then how do they do what they do? Or, differently put: is there such a thing as a “culture,” as a set of rules, recipes, and programs, which guides our behavior? If so, how does this culture get there? But if not, how do we explain skilled human behavior in the world, and that people can be so different?

Student comments on Wayfinding from 2017 are below.

Living Anthropologically means documenting history, interconnection, and power during a time of global transformation. We need to care for others as we attempt to build a world together. This blog is a personal project of Jason Antrosio, author of Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy. For updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow on Twitter.

Living Anthropologically is part of the Amazon Associates program and earns a commission from qualifying purchases, including ads and Amazon text links. There are also Google ads and Google Analytics which may use cookies and possibly other tracking information. See the Privacy Policy.