FPR Workshop on Culture, Brain, and Emotion

Hotel Casa del Mar
Santa Monica, California
March 4-5, 2006

In March 4–5, 2006, the FPR convened a two-day interdisciplinary workshop on emotion in Santa Monica, California, Invited workshop participants included FPR Board members and staff; UCLA faculty (biologists Emeran Mayer and David Jentsch); and two invited guests, anthropologists Robert LeVine of Harvard University and Geoffrey White of the University of Hawaii. The purpose of the meeting was to plan for the next conference, “Seven Dimensions of Emotion,” which took place at UCLA on March 30–April 1, 2007.

The group sought to assess the ways in which some of the emerging lines of neuroscientific, psychological, and anthropological research intersect, particularly examining the influence of cultural meaning on brain and behavior. The group agreed to structure conference sessions in a way that illustrates the “basic” emotions – fear, anxiety, sadness, happiness, rage, panic, maternal love, and empathy – although everyone acknowledged that human emotional experiences are far more complex than this structure suggests. The selective focus on specific emotions comes out of emotion work in anthropology, where the current generation of field researchers, such as Douglas Hollan, Jason Throop, Robert Desjarlais, and Alexander Hinton, are looking at the effects of social, cultural, political, and economic conditions and local idioms on particular emotions, e.g., empathy, sorrow, and fear.

The group also discussed how to improve the integration of presentations and discussions. Participants agreed that it would be productive to organize most sessions around a case study or “vignette” from fieldwork observations, laboratory or imaging studies, clinical write-ups, or personal experiences, followed by an interdisciplinary panel discussion. Workshop participants recommended several speakers and agreed on a tentative program.

List of Participants

Carole Browner (UCLA, FPR)
Marie-Françoise Chesselet (UCLA, FPR)
Constance Cummings (FPR)
Douglas Hollan (UCLA, FPR)
David Jentsch (UCLA)
Marjorie Kagawa-Singer (UCLA, FPR)
Robert Lemelson (UCLA, FPR)
Robert LeVine (Harvard University Emeritus)
Steven Lopez (USC, FPR)
Emeran Mayer (UCLA)
Beate Ritz (UCLA, FPR)
Geoffrey White (University of Hawaii)