Babies in Cross-Cultural Perspective

A World of Babies

Childhood studies is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the issues, concepts and debates surrounding the study of children and childhoods.  Although there are several excellent introductory texts, one of my favorites from this field is A World of Babies by Judy DeLoache and Alma Gottlieb.  The book is a collection of “manuals” similar to What to Expect When You’re Expecting from people and cultures from around the world, both historic–the book begins with the Puritans–and modern–the book includes manuals from the Beng, Balinese, Turkish, Warlpiri, Fulani, and Ifaluk perspectives.

The editors write:

Perhaps even more than with most cultural matters, child-rearing practices and beliefs reflect local conceptions of how the world is and how the child should be readied for living in it. […] All child rearing is based on beliefs about what makes life manageable, safe, and fertile for the spirit.  Even with the best, most rational, kindest advice from outside, child rearing will likely always be so.

Anyway, I highly recommend it, if you’re looking for a Spring Break read.  What are you reading these days?  Any thoughts or suggestions?

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