Until the 70s and 80s anthropologists studying different cultures had mainly confined themselves to the behaviour and idea systems of adults. Psychologists, on the other hand, working mainly in Europe and America, had studied child development in their own settings and simply assumed the universality of their findings. Thus both disciplines had largely ignored a crucial problem area: the way in which children from birth onwards learn to become competent members of their culture. This process, which has been called ‘the quintessential human adaptation’, constitutes the theme of this volume, originally published in 1988.
It derives from a workshop held at the London School of Economics which brought together fieldworkers who in their studies had paid more than usual attention to children in their cultures. Their experience and foci of interest were varied but this very diversity serves to illuminate different facets of the acquisition of culture by children, ranging in age from pre-verbal infants to adolescents.
Evolutionarily primed for culture-learning, children are responsive to a rich web of influences from subtle and indirect as in their music and dance to direct teaching in the family guided by culture-specific ideas about child psychology. Some of the salient things they learn relate to gender, status and power, critical for the functioning of all societies.
The introductory essay provides the necessary historical background of the development of child study in both anthropology and psychology and outlined how future research in the ethnography of childhood should proceed. The book concludes with an annotated bibliography providing a guide to the literature from 1970 onwards.
Preface. Gustav Jahoda and I.M. Lewis Introduction: Child Development in Psychology and Anthropology Part 1: Non-verbal Processes in the Acquisition of Culture 1. Colwyn Trevarthen Universal Co-operative Motives: How Infants Begin to Know the Language and Culture of their Parents 2. John Blacking Dance and Music in Venda Children’s Cognitive Development 1956–8 3. Angela Hobart The Shadow Play and Operetta as Mediums of Education in Bali Part 2: Cognitive Development and Indigenous Psychology 4. Signe Howell From Child to Human: Chewong Concepts of Self 5. Joanna Overing Personal Autonomy and the Domestication of the Self in Piaroa Society 6. Ida Nicolaisen Concepts and Learning Among the Punan Bah of Sarawak Part 3: Cognitive Development, Gender and Hierarchy 7. Christina Toren Children’s Perceptions of Gender and Hierarchy in Fiji 8. Katherine Platt Cognitive Development and Sex Roles on the Kerkennah Islands of Tunisia 9. Tarama Dragadze Sex Roles and State Roles in Soviet Georgia: Two Styles of Infant Socialisation. Christina Toren Annotated Bibliography: Recent Studies of Ethnography of Childhood. Index