Experimental anthropology in the making: a conversation with Andreas Roepstorff by Des Fitzgerald

Andreas Roepstorff is Professor in Anthropology at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he is also Director of the Interacting Minds Centre. Since the early 2000s, he has pursued an intensely interdisciplinary and collaborative research-programme at the intersections of anthropology, science and technology studies, and cognitive neuroscience – while also using his ethnographic training to reflect back on this his own methods. Often cited as one of the early figures in what is today called ‘neuroanthropology,’ Andreas’s major research interests circle around forms of cooperation and communication, intersubjectivity and embodiment, ethnographies of knowledge and knowledge-translation, and experimental anthropology. Among his most important publications for social scientists are ‘Enculturing through patterned practices’ (with Jörg Niewöhner and Stefan Beck), ‘Neuroanthropology or simply anthropology’ (with Chris Frith) and ‘Transforming subjects into objectivity: an ethnography of knowledge in a brain-imaging laboratory.’ As part of the series on ‘The Collaborative Turn,’ Des Fitzgerald sat down with Andreas Roepstorff, for a conversation about disciplinarity and collaboration, in Aarhus, Denmark, in late 2014. This is an edited account of their conversation.


Becoming an experimental anthropologist

AR: When I was a student at Aarhus, I really liked biology and I really liked anthropology. I liked all of it. But I had an internal problem with…how on earth should I create an identity, and a kind of field around myself, and turn it into something? I had really created problems for myself. And then one day there was this sign on a white board at the university, where someone from the medical faculty needed someone to run a research project, as a research student in neuroscience.

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