About Charles Whitehead

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ABOUT CHARLES WHITEHEAD

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I am particularly interested in resolving the conceptual gulf dividing social from biological anthropology, and think this needs collaborative effort from all the behavioural sciences, especially in relation to human evolution, child development, and human culture. My present research involves brain imaging social display behaviours, with a view to testing a ‘play and display’ hypothesis of the coevolution of the human brain, social displays, and self-consciousness. So far I have completed a pilot study of role-play and verse with Robert Turner (Whitehead & Turner, 2000), and a larger study of pretend play with Chris Frith and others (Whitehead et al. 2009), at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London. Future plans include studies of representational image-making and dance.

I set up this website because I think everyone should know some social science, but also in the hope that behavioural scientists will find, on one page or another, something of interest coming from outside their own discipline.

Whitehead, C., Marchant, J.L., Craik, D. & Frith, C.D. (2009) ‘Neural correlates of observing pretend play and representing one object as another'. pdf: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2009/06/17/scan.nsp021.full.pdf+html

Whitehead, C. & Turner, R. (2000) ‘Is role-play a default state for human consciousness?’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2000, Centre for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 8-15 April.

Curriculum Vitae

Following twenty years as creative director of a pharmaceutical advertising agency, I decided to learn more about human behaviour, and gained my MSc in Social Anthropology (1995) and PhD in Anthropology and Neuroscience (2003) at University College London. During my time at UCL I tried to study as many behavioural disciplines as possible, and also completed a practical course on Ritualization and Dramatherapy at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Previously I had worked as a secondary school teacher, having received a Teacher’s Certificate from the Victoria University of Manchester with distinctions in Art and English. Between 2001 and 2007, I was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster teaching Anthropology to Cognitive Science students, and have also contributed teaching seminars for the MA programme in Religious Experience at the University of Wales, Lampeter. In 2009 I organized the conference 'Social Approaches to Consciousness' as part of the Asia Consciousness Festival in Hong Kong, where I also served on the Program Committee for ‘Toward a Science of Consciousness: Investigating Inner Experience’.

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Selected publications

Books, edited works, and book chapters

Whitehead, C. (2016). ‘Health, development, and the culture-ready brain’. In J. Chiao, S.-C. Li, R. Seligman, and R. Turner (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience (New York: OUP). Download DOCX_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2014). ‘Why humans and not apes: The social preconditions for the emergence of language’. In D. Dor, C. Knight and J. Lewis (eds.) The Social Origins of Language (Oxford: OUP). Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2011) ‘Altered consciousness in society’. In Altering Consciousness: A Multidisciplinary Perspective, eds. E. Cardeña & M. Winkelman (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publishers) pp. 181-202. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C., ed. (2010) Social Approaches to Consciousness 2: Special double issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies; 17 (7/8).

Whitehead, C., ed. (2008) Social Approaches to Consciousness: Special double issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies; 15 (10/11). Also published as:

Whitehead, C., ed. (2008) The Origins of Consciousness in the Social World (Exeter: Imprint Academic).

Whitehead, C. (2007) ‘Work versus play: What recent brain research can tell us about play, theatre, and the arts’. In Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts 2007, ed. D. Meyer-Dinkgräfe (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press) pp. 487-503. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2006) ‘Social display and the evolution of human self-consciousness’. In Consciousness, Theatre. Literature and the Arts, ed. D. Meyer-Dinkgräfe (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press) pp. 208-21. Download PDF_TOP

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Peer-reviewed and scientific journal papers

Whitehead C. (2012) ‘Why the behavioural sciences need the concept of the culture ready brain’ Invited paper for a special issue on ‘Culture and Brain’, Anthropological Theory; 12 (1): 43-71. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘The culture ready brain’. Invited paper for a special issue on cultural neuroscience, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, doi: 10.1093/scan/nsq036. pdf: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/06/16/scan.nsq036.full.pdf?ijkey=ivMYbsQTQHHZQUn&keytype=ref

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘Rethinking reality: Editor’s introduction’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 17 (7/8): 7-17. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘Cultural distortions of self- and reality-perception’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 17 (7/8): 95-118. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C., Marchant, J.L., Craik, D., Frith, C.D. (2009) ‘Neural correlates of observing pretend play and representing one object as another’ Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience; 4 (4): 369-378, doi: 10.1093/scan/nsp021. pdf: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2009/06/17/scan.nsp021.full.pdf+html

Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘”You do an empirical experiment and you get an empirical result. What can any anthropologist tell me that could change that?” Editor’s introduction’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 15 (10/11): 7-41. Download PDF_TOP

Turner, R. & Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘How collective representations can change the structure of the brain’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 15 (10/11): 43-57. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘The neural correlates of work and play: Recent imaging research, social mirror theory, and some implications for the evolution of selfconsciousness’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 15 (10/11): 93-121. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘The human revolution: Editorial introduction to “Honest fakes and language origins’ by Chris Knight’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 15 (10/11): 226-35. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2001) ‘Social mirrors and shared experiential worlds’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 8 (4): 3-36. Download PDF_TOP

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Conference reviews

Whitehead, C. (2011) ‘Spirit and science in Stockholm: Toward a Science of Consciousness: Brain; Mind; Reality Stockholm 3-7 May 2011’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 18 (7/8): 222-41. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘Six keynote papers on consciousness with some comments on their social implications’ (Review of papers presented at Toward a Science of Consciousness Hong Kong 10-14 June 2009) Journal of Consciousness Studies; 17 (1/2): 217-27. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2004) ‘“Everything I believe might be a delusion. Whoa!” Tucson 2004: Ten years on and are we any nearer to a science of consciousness?’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 11 (12): 68-88. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2000) ‘The anthropology of consciousness: Keeping body and soul together?’ Anthropology Today; 16 (4): 20-2. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2000) ‘Grand illusions: Robogeeks meet bad scientists at Tucson 2000’ Anthropology Today’; 16 (4): 22-3. Download PDF_TOP

Murinbata, T. & Whitehead, C. (2000) ‘Why conferences on consciousness are not really getting us anywhere: A stone-age anthropologist explains’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 7 (6): 81-5. Download PDF_TOP

Murinbata, T. & Whitehead, C. (1998) ‘A stone-age anthropologist looks at Tucson III’ Journal of Consciousness Studies; 5 (4): 504-7. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (1998) ‘The re-enchantment of science’ Anthropology Today; 14 (5): 20-1. Download PDF_TOP

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Book reviews

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘Charles Tart: The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together’ (book review) Journal of Consciousness Studies; 17 (11/12): 202-207. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2009) ‘Explaining the undefined – Homo sapiens, Homo ludens, or Homo collaborans?’ (Review of The Sapient Mind: Archaeology meets neuroscience, eds. Colin Renfrew, Chris Frith, & Lambros Malafouris) Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, doi: 10.1002/acp.1659. Download PDF_TOP


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Conference papers

Whitehead, C. (2011) ‘Mind wandering, spirituality, and human happiness’. Paper presented at Toward a Science of Consciousness: Brain, Mind & Reality, Stockholm University, Sweden, 3-7 May.

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘What is childhood for? What anthropology and brain science can tell us about the human seriousness of play’. Invited paper for Making Space 2010: Architecture and Design for Children and Young People, organised by Children in Scotland in association with OECD, Children in Europe, and the Scottish Government. Edinburgh, 7-8 October.

Whitehead, C., convener (2009) Social Approaches to Consciousness. Conference within the Asia Consciousness Festival, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 9 June.

Whitehead, C. (2009) ‘Anthropological neuroscience’. Conference paper at Social Approaches to Consciousness, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 9 June.

Whitehead, C. (2009) ‘Why we need social approaches’. Plenary conference paper at Toward a Science of Consciousness, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 10-14 June.

Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘The neural correlates of having fun: Recent imaging research, social mirror theory, and some implications for the evolution of self-consciousness’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2008, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 8-12 April.

Craik, D. & Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘Spiritual experience and the theory of anti-structure’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2008, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 8-12 April.

Whitehead, C. (2007) ‘Why scientists cannot agree about human behavioural universals, what animal cartoons can tell us, and some suggestions as to when and why fundamental human differences evolved’ VI. Göttinger Freilandtage: Primate Behavior and Human Universals, Department of Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Göttingen, Germany, 11-14 December.

Whitehead, C. (2007) ‘What recent brain research can tell us about music, dance, and social display: and why we should stop thinking of them as modes of communication comparable with language’ Summer Workshop on Music, Language and Movement, Institute for Music in Human and Social Development/Queens University, Canada, Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, UK, 6-10 August.

Whitehead, C. (2007) ‘Music, social mirrors, and brain evolution’ Music and Evolutionary Thought Conference, Institute of Advanced Study and School of Music, Durham University/Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge, Durham University, UK. 22-23 June.

Whitehead, C. (2006) ‘Co-operation and cultural dislocation of self-boundaries’ Exploring the Boundaries of Experience and Self: Tenth Annual Conference, The Consciousness and Experiential Section of the British Psychological Society, St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, UK. 15-17 September.

Whitehead, C. (2006) ‘Collective deceptions in western science’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2006, Centre for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 4-8 April. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2005) ‘Self-consciousness and social display’ Reconstructing Consciousness, Mind and Being: Ninth Annual Conference, The Consciousness and Experiential Section of the British Psychological Society, St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, UK. 16-18 September.

Whitehead, C. (2004) ‘Evolution of the human brain’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2004, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 6-11 April.

Whitehead, C. (2002) ‘Political origins of the “hard problem”’. Poster: Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2002, Centre for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 6-13 April. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2000) ‘One hundred years of anthropological denials’ Paper presented in Lies, Secrets and Silences: The Unsaid in Culture and in Anthropology, Socrates Staff/Postgraduate Workshop, University College London, UK. 19-20 June.

Whitehead, C. & Turner, R. (2000) ‘Is role-play a default state for human consciousness?’ Toward a Science of Consciousness: Tucson 2000, Centre for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 8-15 April).

Whitehead, C. (2000) ‘Anthropological psychologizing and what we need to do about it’ 20th Annual Conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, Tucson, Arizona, USA. 5-9 April. Download PDF_TOP

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Workshops

Cardeña, E., Whitehead, C., Ustinova, Y. Geels, A. & Granqvist, P. (2011) ‘Altered states’. Workshop for the conference Toward a Science of Consciousness: Brain, Mind & Reality, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, 7 May.

Whitehead, C. (2011) Invited contributions to the workshop ‘Social origins of language: Early society, communication, narrative and structure’, Department of Anthropology, UCL, 14-17 February.

Craik, D. &Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘New directions in brain research: Everything you need to know about the social brain and its implications for consciousness’. Pre-conference workshop, Toward a Science of Consciousness, Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. 7 April.


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Invited seminar presentations

Whitehead, C. (2011) ‘Why are we intuitively attracted to the counter-intuitive? Violations of reality, fascination, and spiritual experience’ University of East London, UK. 22 March.

Whitehead, C. (2008) ‘Music, social display, and the evolution of the brain’ Kings College Colloquia, Kings College, London, UK. 12 March.

Whitehead, C. (2006) ‘Religious experience in animistic societies’ The Alister Hardy Society London Group, London, UK. 28 November.

Whitehead, C. (2006) ‘Music, social display, and the evolution of the brain’ Music and Brain Club, Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience, University College London, UK. 12 July.

Whitehead, C. (2004) ‘Religious experience in animistic societies’ MA programme in Religious Experience, University of Wales, Lampeter, UK. 31 May – 4 June. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2004) ‘Religious experience and the theory of anti-structure’ MA Programme in Religious Experience, University of Wales, Lampeter, UK. 31 May – 4 June. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (2001) ‘Universal substrates of cultural performance’ Medical Anthropology Seminar series, University College London, UK. 1 February.

Whitehead, C. (2001) ‘Mapping role-play in the brain: New fMRI evidence and its implications for hominid evolution’ Biological Anthropology Seminar series, University College London, UK. 16 January.

Whitehead, C. (1999) ‘“How savages think” revisited: Shared experiential worlds and social mirrors of consciousness’ Medical Anthropology Seminar series, University College London, OK. 14 January

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Unpublished monographs and selected essays

Whitehead, C. (2003) ‘Social mirrors and the brain: including a functional imaging study of role-play and verse’: PhD Thesis, University College London. Download PDF_TOP

Whitehead, C. (1995) ‘The uses of enchantment: The role of altered states of consciousness in cultural origins and change’: MSc dissertation, University College London, September.

Whitehead, C. (1995) `Blood, semen, and the skull of Yorick’ (critique of Marilyn Strathern’s Gender of the Gift): Essay for Theory and Method in Social Anthropology, University College London, March.

Whitehead, C. (1994) ‘Habiline group dynamics and social structure’: Essay for World Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, December.

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Non-academic

Whitehead, C. (2010) ‘Mucking about. We all know it’s good for you – but anthropologists and brain scientists have been finding out why’. Invited article for Children in Scotland, Issue 111, September, pp. 16-17. Download PDF_TOP

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Copyright © 2005 Charles Whitehead. All rights reserved.