PD Dr. Frank Muttenzer
Frank Muttenzer is a social and cultural anthropologist, with an MA in legal theory and a PhD in Development Studies (Graduate Institute, Geneva, 2006). He joined the University of Luzern in 2010 and became Privatdozent of Cognitive Anthropology in 2020. His research interests concern theories of action, language and cognition in anthropology, the practice of human ecology, natural resource and development policy, and postcolonial religious transformations.
His anthropological theorizing starts from the premise that ‘culture’ and all human forms of life (language, tool-use, extended, cumulative knowledge, sociality, the capacity to form joint goals and engage in joint action and joint attention, the narratives, rituals, and belief systems that constitute ‘cultural models’, mechanisms and themes of conflict, etc.) must ultimately reflect evolved constraints of the human mind and human nature. Given such a premise, it would be somewhat misleading for an anthropologist to try and infer the cognitive scheme of Vezo religion and thought without having written first an ecological anthropology of reef fisheries and conservation. If she is an enactivist about cognition, she might prefer to frame both ecological and psychological viewpoints in an Aristotelian account of the pursuit of ‘the good life’, asking what the concept of well-being or happiness amounts to cognitively, in the goal-oriented lives of reef fishers and conservationists, and what its material satisfaction conditions are.
Frank has lived among and worked with different tribes in Madagascar for more than ten years and published a book on deforestation, resource access regimes and environmental policymaking (Déforestation et droit coutumier à Madagascar, Editions Karthala, 2010), and a second book on conceptions of well-being and economic strategies of small scale fishers (Being ethical among Vezo People, Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). He was Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Toronto in 2013-2014 and Visiting Scholar at the Indian Ocean World Centre McGill University Montreal in 2015-2017. At present (2020-2023) he conducts field research in Madagascar jointly with an international team of economists and sociologists on cognitive, affective and ethical dimensions of the economic life of mud crab fishers in the island’s mangrove areas.
- Theories of action, language and cognition
- Anthropology of religion
- Human and political ecology
- Economic anthropology
- Anthropology of law, ethics and morality
- Anthropology of development
- Indian Ocean World
- Pacific Ocean coral reef, fisheries and marine conservation
- Asia Minor, Caucasus, Central Asia
- Economic Life in the Mangroves: A comparison of Mud Crab Fisheries in Madagascar
- Folk psychological narratives and the anthropology of persons: a phenomenological and semiotic theory of other minds
- Language Ideology and postcolonial conversions to Christianity
- Ecological Truth and Moral Appraisal: Fisheries, livelihoods, and conservation in southwest Madagascar