Conference: Artefacts and material culture

About the conference

This interdisciplinary conference was the third of three conferences associated with the AHRC Culture and the Mind project. The conference brought together a range of leading scholars working on cross cultural aspects of and approaches to understanding the psychological foundations of our interactions with artefacts and material culture through:

  • artefact naming and categorisation

  • reasoning about artefacts

  • norms involving artefacts including ownership norms

  • cultural transmission of artefact related skills and knowledge

  • the development of the cognitive foundations of artefacts

  • and the use of artefacts by nonhuman animals.

The conference will take place at the Humanities Research Institute: 34 Gell Street, Sheffield S3 7QW, at the University of Sheffield.


View poster (PDF, 289KB)


Read the abstracts

Nurit Bird-David (Anthropology, University of Haifa)
Setting or mind-setting? A study of a South Indian hunter-gatherer camp

Gergely Csibra (Psychology, Central European University)
Cognitive resources for learning about artefacts in human infants

Emma Flynn (Psychology, Durham University)
Investigating social learning and cultural transmission in young children

Ori Friedman (Psychology, University of Waterloo)
Principle-based reasoning about ownership in young children

Susan Gelman (Psychology, University of Michigan)
The non-obvious basis of ownership: Tracing the history and value of owned objects

Robert Layton (Anthropology, Durham University)
Continuity and innovation in the transmission of traditional Chinese culture

Barbara Malt (Psychology, Lehigh University)
Naming artifacts: Patterns and processes

Aimee Plourde (Philosophy, University of Sheffield)
Artefacts as signals of strength in political competition; a case study of landscape monuments from the late Bronze Age Anatolian Plateau

Jamie Tehrani (Anthropology, Durham University)
Phylogenetic approaches to the transmission of material culture: Current trends and future directions


This conference was jointly sponsored by the UK Arts & Humanties Research Council, the Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies (directed by Stephen Laurence), and the Rutgers University Research Group on Evolution and Higher Cognition (directed by Professor Stephen Stich).


Kathy Puddifoot

Culture and the Mind Conference
Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies
Humanities Research Institute
University of Sheffield
34 Gell Street
S3 7QW
United Kingdom