Something About Charlie

[Updated:  20 Sept 2005]

Charlie Laughlin (Portrait in acrylic on canvas by Isa Cote)

You are in the right place if you want to know something about Charlie's professional life. Charles D. Laughlin, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Religion (he retired in 2001) in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6; Ph: (819) 459-1121, E-mail: .  He is also adjunct professor of religion at the University of Ottawa.  The pictures below are thumbnails and may be enlarged if you click on them.

Charlie has been a professor at Carleton University since 1976, and between 1970-1976 at the State University of New York at Oswego. He took his Ph.D. (1972) and M.A. (1968) at the University of Oregon, and his B.A. degree (1966) in anthropology at San Francisco State College. He completed a one year (1973- 1974) postdoctoral program as a senior fellow of the Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania.  Charlie has done ethnographic fieldwork in a number of venues over the course of his 30-odd years in anthropology.  He originally spent a year in the field with the So (aka the Tepeth or Tepes) of Northeastern Uganda, a mountain dwelling pastoral and horticultural people who present an enduring mystery with respect to their historical roots.  He completed his doctoral dissertation on the ways the So adapted to extreme resource deprivation during a period of severe drought.  

Charlie in Soland.JPG (44361 bytes)

Ethnographer in Soland

More So pictures

He later became more interested in consciousness, and particularly in the ways that societies have of structuring, driving and interpreting alternative states of consciousness.  This interest eventually led him to live on and off in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Nepal, India and elsewhere as a Buddhist monk (7 years), and to become an avid meditator in both Eastern and Western traditions.

Ethnographer sitting with his fellow Tibetan monks at puja in  Chogay Trichen Rimpoche's monastery in Lumbini, Nepal, 1982.

Pictures of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche

This was an intense time involving many trips out to Nepal and India and Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and the experience of all the various versions of Buddhist tradition.  Often Charlie would be accompanied in his wanderings by the Ven. Chee Han Seng, a very knowledgeable monk, fluent in Tibetan and half a dozen other languages.  The photos below were all taken in the early 1980s.

Charlie studying Tibetan book.jpg (50740 bytes)In his room in Chogye Rimpoche's monastery in Lumbini

Venerable Chee Han Seng and Venerable Ngawang Thenle Oser wandering through Malaysia, during June, 1985.

Charlie & Khempo Appey Rimpoche.jpg (43287 bytes)With Venerable Khenpo Appey Rinpoche, then the Principal of Sakya College

Monk in market.jpg (50611 bytes)Shopping in an Indian market

Monks at table.jpg (41457 bytes)Monks at table in Bodhinath, Kathmandu

In the early 1990s, however, Charlie's interests turned to the remarkable philosophy, symbolic system and ritual healing practices of the Navajo people who dwell in the American Southwest.  He has spent six periods of fieldwork among his Navajo friends.  He is primarily interested in ceremonial culture, but has been privileged to experience many dimensions of the Navajo way of life.

Charlie and the Chuskas.jpg (36656 bytes)Anthropologist in the field in Navajoland

Charlie in the field.jpg (50158 bytes)Anthropologist studying the literature in his trailer

Artist at work.jpg (49113 bytes)Navajo artist at work

Cowboys 2.jpg (29411 bytes)Navajo cowboys

Dance Contest.jpg (64896 bytes)Dance contest

Grandfather.jpg (66544 bytes)Walking with grandfather

Gutting a lamb.jpg (40648 bytes)Dressing a lamb for a feast

Irrigation Time.jpg (58895 bytes)Irrigation time in the spring

Lonesome Cabin.jpg (57713 bytes)Lonely cabin on the rez

Looking back in time.jpg (53149 bytes)Looking back in time

Navajo Cops.jpg (70829 bytes)Navajo cops -- can you recognize Joe Leaphorn  or Jim Chee?

Navajo weaver.jpg (57264 bytes)Wonderful Two Grey Hills weaver

Pedalling Around.jpg (72546 bytes)Pedaling around with grandpa

Sheep pen.jpg (61987 bytes)Sheep, sheep everywhere!

Smiling face.jpg (34658 bytes)Smiling face from the pickup truck

Wagon Wheel.jpg (71163 bytes)Post and wheel

Wash-Out.jpg (49417 bytes)Primitive road washout, very modern remedy

Window Rock.jpg (58370 bytes)Window Rock, the Navajo Nation's capital

Although officially retired in 2001 from Carleton University, Charlie continues to work with folks wanting to study biogenetic structuralism.   He has also entered into a very satisfying project with anthropologist, C. Jason Throop , to develop a new approach to linking mind, body and culture -- a perspective we call cultural neurophenomenology .


Charlie has authored, co-authored and edited a number of published books, chapters and articles. The following is a fairly complete oeuvre:

[] Books

1974 Biogenetic Structuralism (with Eugene d'Aquili), Columbia University Press.

1979 An Ethnography of the So of Northeastern Uganda, (2 vols; with Elizabeth Allgeier) New Haven, Conn.: HRAF Press.

1984 Science as Cognitive Process: Toward An Empirical Philosophy of Science, (with R. Rubinstein and J. McManus), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

1985 Biogenetic Structuralism, (Japanese edition), Tokyo: Tuttle-Mori.

1990 Brain, Symbol and Experience: Toward a Neurophenomenology of Consciousness (with J. McManus and E.G. d'Aquili), New York: Columbia University Press.

1992 Scientific Explanation and the Life-World: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Meaning and Causation. IONS Report CP-2, Sausalito, CA: Institute of Noetic Sciences (Monograph).

[] Edited Books

1978 Extinction and Survival in Human Populations (with I.A. Brady) Columbia University Press.

1979 The Spectrum of Ritual, (with E.G. d'Aquili and J. McManus) Columbia University Press.

1990 Guest editor of special issue of Pre- and Peri-Natal Psychology Journal, Vol. 4, devoted to Pre- and Peri- Natal Anthropology.

1993 Guest editor of special issue of the Journal of Ritual Studies, Vol. 7(1) devoted to Sport as Ritual.

[] Articles in Refereed Journals

1971 "Anthropologist: Partisan or Facilitator?" Maxwell Review, Spring.

1972 "Kenisan: The Economic and Social Ramifications of the Ghost Cult Among the So of Northeastern Uganda", Africa 42(1): 9-20.

1973 "The Influence of Whitehead's Organism on Murray's Personology", Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, 9(3): 251-257.

1973 "Maximization, Marriage and Residence", American Ethnologist 1 (1): 129-141 Review of Canadian Sociology and Anthropology 10(3): 199-213.

1974 "Age Generations in So", Africa 44 (3): 266-279.

1974 "Deprivation and Reciprocity". Man 9: 380-396.

1975 "The Biopsychological Determinants of Religious Ritual Behaviour", Zygon 10 (1): 32-58 (with E.G. d'Aquili).

1975 "Lexicostatistics and the Mystery of So Ethnolinguistic Relations", Anthropological Linguistics (October), pp. 325-341.

1977 "Bridging Levels of Systemic Organization", Current Anthropology 18(3): 459-481 (with R.A. Rubinstein).

1981 "A Model of Brain and Symbol," Semiotica 33-3/4: 211- 236 (with J. McManus and C.D. Stephens).

1983 "Dreams, Trance and Visions: What a Transpersonal Anthropology Might Look Like". Pheonix: Journal of Transpersonal Anthropology 7 (1/2): 141-159 (with J. McManus and J. Shearer).

1983 "Relaxation, Retuning and Flow; Some Neuropsychological Aspects of Stress Management." Royal Canadian Mounted Police Gazette 45 (10): 35-39.

1985 "Neurognosis, Individuation and Tibetan Arising Yoga Practice." Phoenix: The Journal of Transpersonal Anthropology 8 (1/2): 91-106 (with J. McManus and M. Webber).

1985 "On the Spirit of the Gift". Anthropologica 27 (1-2): 137-159.

1986 "The Future of Human Consciousness", Futures: The Journal of Forecasting and Planning 17(3): 401-419 (with S. Richardson).

1987 "Neurognosis: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Culture and Cognition." Biology Forum 80-2: 243-247.

1988 "How Masks Work." Journal of Ritual Studies 2 (1): 59- 86 (with J. Young-Laughlin).

1988 "Four Comments on the Future of Structuralism in Biology." Biology Forum 81 (1): 137-139.

1988 "The Prefrontosensorial Polarity Principle: Toward a Neurophenomenology of Intentionality." Biology Forum 81 (2): 243-260; Japanese version in Foundation of Structuralist Biology (ed. by K. Ikeda). Tokyo: Kaimeisha.

1988 "Transpersonal Anthropology: Some Methodological Issues." Western Canadian Anthropology 5: 29-60.

1989 "Mirrors, Portals and Multiple Realities." Zygon 23 (4): 39-64 (with G.F. MacDonald, J. McManus and J. Cove).

1989 "The Artifacts of Knowledge." Anthropologie et Societes 13 (2): 9-29 (in French).

1989 "Pre- and Perinatal Anthropology: A Selective Review." Pre-and Perinatal Psychology Journal 3 (4): 261-296.

1989 "Ritual and the Symbolic Function: A Summary of Biogenetic Structural Theory." Journal of Ritual Studies 4 (1): 15-39.

1989 "The Roots of Enculturation." Anthropologica 31: 135- 178.

1989 "Developments in Biogenetic Structural Theory." Cog Sci News 2(1): 3-5.

1990 "Womb=Woman=World: Gender and Transcendence in Tibetan Tantric Buddhism". Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal 5(2): 147-165.

1990 "At Play in the Fields of the Lord: The Role of Metanoia in the Development of Consciousness." Play and Culture 3 (3): 173-192.

1991 "Pre- and Perinatal Brain Development and Enculturaton: A Biogenetic Structural Approach." Human Nature 2(3): 171-213.

1992 "Pre- and Perinatal Anthropology II: The Puerperium in Cross-Cultural Perspective." Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal 7(1):23-60.

1992 "Consciousness in Biogenetic Structuralism." The Anthropology of Consciousness 3 (1-2): 17-22.

1992 "Time, Intentionality, and a Neurophenomenology of the Dot". The Anthropology of Consciousness 3(3-4): 14-27.

1993 "Fuzziness and Phenomenology in Ethnological Research: Insights from Fuzzy Set Theory." Journal of Anthropological Research 49(1) 17-37.

1993 "The Fuzzy Brain." Social Neuroscience Bulletin 6(2): 20-21.

1993 "Revealing the Hidden: The Epiphanic Dimension of Games and Sport." Journal of Ritual Studies 7(1): 85- 104.

1993 "Mature Contemplation." Zygon 28(2): 133-176 (with J. McManus and E.G. d'Aquili).

1993 "A Return to Gellhorn Land." Social Neuroscience Bulletin 6(3): 35-37.

1993 "On the Relationship Between Consciousness and Reality." Social Neuroscience Bulletin 7(1):15-18.

1994 "Transpersonal Anthropology, Then and Now." Transpersonal Review 1(1):7-10.

1994 "Apodicticity: The Problem of Absolute Certainty in Transpersonal Anthropology." Anthropology and Humanism 19(2):1-15.

1994 "Pre- and Perinatal Anthropology III: Birth Control, Abortion and Infanticide in Cross-Cultural Perspective." Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal 9(1):85-101.

1995 "The Relevance of the Radical Empiricism of William James to the Anthropology of Consciousness." Anthropology of Consciousness 6(3):34-46 (with J. McManus).

1996 "Archetypes, Neurognosis and the Quantum Sea." Journal of Scientific Exploration (in press).

1996 "The Properties of Neurognosis." Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems (in press).

1997 "Body, Brain, and Behavior: The Neuroanthropology of the Body Image." Anthropology of Consciousness 8 (2-3):49-68.

1997 "The evolution of Cyborg Consciousness." Anthropology of Consciousness 8(4):144-159.

2000 "The Cyborg, the Ideology Chip and the Guru Program: The Implications of Cyborg Technologies for the Development of Human Consciousness." Foresight 2(3):291-312.

2001 "Imagination and Reality: On the Relations Between Myth, Consciousness, and the Quantum Sea." Zygon 36(4):709-736 (with Jason Throop).

2001 "Mandalas, Nixies, Goddesses, and Succubi: A Transpersonal Anthropologist Looks at the Anima." International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 20:33-52. 

2002 "Ritual, Collective Effervescence and the Categories: Toward a Neo-Durkheimian Model of the Nature of Human Consciousness, Feeling and Understanding." Journal of Ritual Studies 16(1):40-63 (with Jason Throop). 

2002 "Ritual, Collective Effervescence and the Categories: Toward a Neo-Durkheimian Model of the Nature of Human Consciousness, Feeling and Understanding." Journal of Ritual Studies 16(1):40-63 (with Jason Throop).

2003 "Experience, Culture, and Reality: The Significance of Fisher Information for Understanding the Relationship Between Alternative States of Consciousness and the Structures of Reality." International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 22:7-26 (with Jason Throop).

2003 "Abstraction and the Artistic Brain: A Neuroanthropological Account of Spiritual Symbolism." Site Street 4 (refereed electronic journal; ).

2004 "Research Brief." Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (in press)

2005 "Art and Spirit: Brain, the Navajo Concept of Hozho, and Kandinsky's Inner Necessity'." International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 23 (in press).

n.d. "Husserlian Meditations and Anthropological Reflections: Toward a Cultural Neurophenomenology of Experience and Reality." (with Jason Throop) (ms submitted for publication)

n.d. "Cultural Neurophenomenology: Integrating Experience, Culture and Reality Through Fisher Information." (with Jason Throop) (ms submitted for publication)

[] Chapters in Edited Books

1973 "Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices Relevant to Family Planning Among the So", in Cultural Source Material for Population Planning in East Africa (ed. by A. Molnos) Vols. 11 and 111, Nairobi: East African Publishing House.

1977 "Adaptation and Exchange in So: A Diachronic Study of Deprivation" in Extinction and Survival in Human Populations (ed. by C. Laughlin and 1. Brady). New York: Columbia University Press.

1980 "Symbolism, Canalization, and P-Structure", in Symbol As Sense (ed. by M.L. Foster and S. Brandis), Academic Press, pp. 323-363 (with C.D. Stephens).

1982 "The Biopsychological Determinants of Play and Games," in Social Approaches to Sport (ed. by R.M. Pankin), Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (with J. McManus).

1983 "Masks: A Re-examination" in The Power of Symbols (ed. by M. Halpin and N.R. Crumrine). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press (with M. Webber and C.D. Stephens).

1986 "The Ritual Transformation of Experience." Studies in Symbolic Interaction 7 (Part A) (Norman K. Denkin, ed.), Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press (with J. McManus, R.A. Rubinstein and J. Shearer).

1989 "Transpersonal Anthropology: What Is It, and What Are the Problems We Face in Doing It?" in A Different Drummer, (ed. by B. Cox, V. Blundell, J. Chevalier). Carleton University Press, pp. 17-26.

1989 "Brain, Culture and Evolution: Some Basic Issues in Neuroanthropology." in A Different Drummer, (ed. by B. Cox, V. Blundell, J. Chevalier). Carleton University Press, pp. 145-156.

1991 "Neurognosis: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Culture and Cognition" in Proceedings of the International Workshop on Structuralism in Biology (ed. by Atuhiro Sibatani) (published in Japanese).

1992 "The Relationship Between Evidence and Belief" in Anomalous Experiences & Trauma (ed. by R.E. Laibow et al.) Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: The Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma.

1993 "The Function of Dreaming in the Cycles of Cognition." in The Function of Dreaming (ed. by A. Moffitt et al.). Albany: SUNY Press (with J. McManus and J. Shearer).

1994 "The Cycle of Meaning: Some Methodological Implications of Biogenetic Structural Theory" in Anthropology of Religion: Handbook of Theory and Method (ed. by Stephen Glazier). Greenwood Press (in Press).

1994 "On the Relationship Between Science and the Life-World: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Meaning and Causation," in The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. (Edited by W. Harman and J. Clark). Institute of Noetic Sciences Books.

1994 "Homeomorphogenesis and Recursive Complementarity: The Role of Symbolism in Producing Psychophysiological Integration," in A Way of Epistemology (ed. by M. Caley and D. Saweda) (in press).

1994 "Psychic Energy and Transpersonal Experience: A Biogenetic Structural Account of the Tibetan Dumo Practice," in Being Changed By Cross-Cultural Encounters (ed. by D.E. Young and J.-G. Goulet). Peterborough: Broadview Press.

1994 "Foreword". T.R. Verny, Exploring the Frontiers of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology (in press).

1996 "Phenomenological Anthropology," in Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 3 (ed. by D. Levinson and M. Ember). HRAF Press, pp. 924-926.

1995 "The Neurobiology of Myth and Ritual." in Readings in Ritual Studies (ed. by Ronald L. Grimes), pp. 132-146. Prentice Hall (with E.G. d'Aquili).

1996 "The Nature of Intuition: A Neuropsychological Approach." in Intuition: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (ed. by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Sven Arvidson). Routledge (in press).

1997 "The Cycle of Meaning: Some Methodological Implications of Biogenetic Structural Theory" in Anthropology of Religion: Handbook of Theory and Method (ed. by Stephen Glazier). Greenwood Press, Pp. 471-488.

1999 "Emotion: A View from Biogenetic Structuralism." in Biocultural Approaches to the Emotions (ed. By A.L. Hinton). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (with Jason Throop), pp. 329-363.

1999 "Biogenetic Structuralism and the Neurophenomenology of Consciousness." in Toward a Science of Consciousness III, ed by Stuart Hameroff, David Chalmers and Alfred Kazniak, pp. 459-473.

2001 "Cults and the Body." in Oxford Companion to the Body . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2004 "Navajo Shamanism." in Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture , Vol. I, ed. by Mariko Namba Walker & Eva Jane Neumann Fridman. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC_CLIO, pp. 318-323.

2005 "Anthropology of Consciousness" in P. D. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch, & E. Thompson (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of consciousness . New York: Cambridge University Press (with Jason Throop).

[] Courses Taught Over the Years

Undergraduate courses:

Principles of Anthropology

Theory and Methods in Anthropology

Human Ecology

Research Methods

Introductory Anthropology

Anthropology Through Science Fiction

Theoretical Anthropology

Economic Systems

Contemporary Societies of Africa

Psychological Anthropology

Anthropological Linguistics

Anthropology of Consciousness

Symbolic Systems

Anthropology and Phenomenology

Medical Anthropology

Ethnographic Enterprise

Biocultural Anthropology

Technology, Mind and Culture

Religion and Society

Graduate courses:

Economic Anthropology

Kinship Systems

Sub-Saharan African Ethnography

Structural Analysis and Formal Models

Phenomenological Anthropology

Signs and Symbols

Archetypes and Anthropology

[] Fieldwork Experiences

1969-1970 A year in the field among the So of northeastern Uganda. These are a cattle-herding and horticultural people living on three mountains in Karamoja District, Uganda. The focus of his research was upon survival and economic activity of a society under severe deprivation.

1978-1985 A number of trips to Nepal and India to study Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques. Became a monk for seven years. The focus of this period of research was upon altered states and contemplative traditions, as well as upon monastic culture. On a number of occasions, traveled among Chinese Buddhists in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

1991- Present  Fieldwork emphasis among the Navajo people of the American Southwest. Made six trips to Navajo over this period. The focus of his research has been upon their system of symbolic healing and their mythology. 

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