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The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings
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The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  36 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The raising of children, their role in society, and the degree to which family and community is structured around them, varies quite significantly around the world. The Anthropology of Childhood provides the first comprehensive review of the literature on children from a distinctly anthropological perspective. Bringing together key evidence from cultural anthropology, hist ...more
Paperback, 488 pages
Published November 13th 2008 by Cambridge University Press
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A detailed literature review of the culture of childhood around the world, and in both past and current cultures. Turns many EuroAmerican-middle-class assumptions about what is "natural" (or in some cases, even "good" though the author sensibly does not make value judgments for the most part) for raising children upside down.

Some themes I found particularly fascinating:

-Children from about ages 5 onward are often eager to help care for babies and "little kids". (I've seen this with my own youn
Jim Robles
Terrific! I am inclined to agree with Peter Gray, Boston College, "If I were to assign just one book as required reading for student of child psychology, this would be it."

The treatments of conferral of personhood and play are luciferous. The Chapter 3 predictions of "famine and epidemic (p. 119) are dire and entirely believable. Reading this book it is pellucid where the ubiquitous misogyny in the classics (An educated woman p. 357 - 360, etc.) comes from.

The sections (Village Schools/Schooling
I picked this book up after reading this review: "The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need". While I don't know if I'd go that far, I will say that as a newish parent, I found this anthropology text fascinating. It is clearly extremely thoroughly researched (there are nearly 100 pages of works cited), and is generally a pretty friendly read (for this academic who is not very familiar with anthropology). In it you learn a lot about how different societies - from the "Third" to "First" world - deal wit ...more
Unique view of how children are viewed and treated in many cultures from ancient to contemporary. Well-documented but written in a lively style. Fascinating and thought-provoking. I could see this book being a major asset to anyone writing speculatuive fiction and wishing to depict a society different from our current one (fetchingly called WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democracies by the author). A few very well-chosen illustrations.
Feb 02, 2015 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
As seen in the New York Times . ...more
Utterly fascinating. It is an Anthropology textbook, so don't expect beautifully-wrought prose, but content is very interesting!
Feb 08, 2015 Panther marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-the-chamber
recommended by Koray and Kandy
A very good compilation of cultural differences in how people view and treat their children. Very nice, straighforward layout.
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“The view that many well-established theoretical positions in psychology cannot be as widely generalized as their authors assume was given a boost by a carefully argued paper published in 2010. Joe Henrich and colleagues challenged the very foundations of the discipline in arguing that psychologists fail to account for the influence of culture or nurture on human behavior. From a large-scale survey they determined that the vast majority of research in psychology is carried out with citizens – especially college students – of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democracies (WEIRD). They note that, where comparative data are available “people in [WEIRD] societies consistently occupy the extreme end of the … distribution [making them] one of the worst subpopulations one could study for generalizing about Homo sapiens” (Henrich et al. 2010: 63, 65, 79).” 0 likes
“for much of human history, children were, and still are in most of the world, treated as a commodity.” 0 likes
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