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.

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 from 2017 are below.