From the list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.
Who am I?
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.
Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things
Why did Mordecai love this book?
Have you ever read a book that literally changed your life? I have, and that book is The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1974.
Becker’s basic thesis is that the institution of “culture” has evolved not so much to facilitate our physical survival (the orthodox viewpoint), but rather, as an elaborate symbolic framework that psychologically protects us from our species’ unique awareness of our own inevitable mortality, both individually and collectively.
Becker basically blew the top of my head off when I first read him during my PhD work in the mid-Oughts, and he remains a major influence on my teaching and research to this day.