Cultural and Social Psychology
A WORLD OF BABIES
Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies
Judy DeLoache and Alma Gottlieb
Cambridge University Press, 2000
EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES The reader will be able to:
• Describe some of the tremendous variety of childrearing perspectives and practices in the world
• Develop an appreciation of its diversity
• Describe aspects of the nature and nurture of infants in seven world societies
• Describe an ethnographic understanding of the many models of babyhood, each shaped by deeply held values and widely varying cultural contexts
Judy S. DeLoache, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and Oxford University, held a Senior International Fellowship from the Fogarty Foundation of NIH, and been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California.
Alma Gottlieb, Ph.D., is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is author of UNDER THE KAPOK TREE: IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE IN BENG THOUGHT and PARALLEL WORDS: AN ANTHROPOLOGIST AND A WRITER ENCOUNTER AFRICA, which won the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, and has edited BLOOD MAGIC: THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF MENSTRUATION.
This unusual compilation makes for much more fascinating reading than would a strict narrative about international child-rearing practices. The editors (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) present seven societies by way of fictional childcare manuals in the manner of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." Some of the imaginary advisers cited are based on real people (e.g., grandmothers) whom new parents might consult. In some cases, the authors present their own field studies while cautioning that these are "in no way intended to advise members of these societies on how to raise their children." The point is not to prescribe from the conceit of Western society but to report how different cultures view child rearing. All child-rearing practices derive from layers of cultural traditions established through generations, and the similarities and differences among these seven diverse societies are striking. What remains constant is the care of children and their place in each society. --Library Journal
Every culture thinks that it knows the best way to care for babies. DeLoache and Gottlieb, both professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have gathered fictionalized accounts, based on factual information and including a brief description of the culture, of how various societies throughout history and the world think their offspring should be raised. Each of these accounts is written in a style similar to Dr. Benjamin Spock's child-care manuals, but using the traditions of each represented culture to create an analogous guidebook. This is an entertaining and educational collection of invented guidebooks spanning the globe. Questions such as what is the key to a successful pregnancy, when to bathe the baby, how long to nurse, and how to celebrate the various ceremonies that revolve around a birth are descriptively explained through the eyes of societies such as the Puritans of New England, the Fulani of western Africa, and a Muslim village in central Turkey. This book is an intriguing opportunity to learn about other cultures. --Booklist