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Book Launch Reception: Why Cultures Persist - Toward a Cultural Immunology

Book by Jesper Sørensen, AIAS Associate Fellow and the Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University

Info about event


Friday 19 January 2024,  at 15:00 - 18:00


AIAS, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, 8000 Aarhus C

Book cover of "Why Cultures Persist Toward a Cultural Immunology" by Jesper Sørensen, published 30. November 2023, Aarhus University Press.
Photo: Jesper Sørensen, AIAS Associate and the Department of the Study of Religion
Work by Sonja Bäumel.
Work by Sonja Bäumel.

You are invited to join this book launch reception to hear more about the new book Why Cultures Persist - Toward a Cultural Immunology  written by Associate Professor Jesper Sørensen.

During the book launch at around 15:30, Jesper Sørensen will share some of his ideas behind the highly interdisciplinary book, and the artist behind the illustrations in the book will tell us about her works of art. The book launch reception is open to all and free of charge.

About the book

Why do humans form groups? Why would a brain, preoccupied with predicting the world, make the formation of cultures possible? And how does our socio-historical context shape the way we think?

In a world faced with numerous global challenges and burdened by conflicts defined along cultural boundaries, now more than ever we need a comprehensive theory of the role of culture in human cooperation. Cultures persist: not only because they enable coordination and cooperation between otherwise selfinterested individuals, but because they cultivate our minds to make us grasp and sense the world in a particular manner, creating enduring structures of mutual solidarity based on a shared experience of reality.

But cultures are not static: they evolve. As we endeavor to predict and classify the spheres of interaction in which we participate, culture falls into place and can be seen to function much like an immune system. If we are to understand the resilience of cultural groups and the evolution of the human mind, we need only look inside ourselves, to our predictive brain and to the immune system regulating the interaction across borders of both cells and cultures. Alongside our natural immune system, humans are endowed with cultural immune systems that bestow individuals and groups alike with resilience and adaptability.

This book is a call for the formation of a genuine cultural immunology.

The book is available to read here (OPEN ACCESS).

It will be possibile to buy the book at the reception. 

About the author of the book

Jesper Sørensen is Associate Professor of Comparative Religion and co-founder of the Religion, Culture and Cognition research group at Aarhus University. He has published widely on magic, divination, ritual, cognitive historiography, and theory of culture and religion. From 2022 – 2024 he is an AIAS Associate Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS).

Artwork of the book

Sonja Bäumel is the artist of the artwork illustrated in the book. She is an Austrian artist, independent researcher and art educator based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Vienna, Austria.

She will display one of her works at the book launch reception.

Find more information on Sonja Bäumel and her work here


The book launch reception is open to all and free of charge. Please REGISTER to participate by16 January 2024.