Our Babies, Ourselves

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OUR BABIES,
OURSELVES
Meredith Small
in Applying Anthropology
(2012:215-221)
PARENTING PRACTICES & ETHNOCENTRISM
 Gusii

 Dutch
– The “three Rs”
(Harkness and Super:217)

Differences not just in far-away
others
 Against
rearing
ethnocentric child-
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com
“The Gusii mothers were appalled. . . .
These American women, the Gusii
concluded are clearly incompetent
mothers” (215; Levine:216).
FROM ETHNOCENTRISM TO ETHNOPEDIATRICS:
MAJOR ISSUES FOR PARENTS
 Holding,
versus scheduling (Barr:219)
 Feeding

How, when to wean (Dettwyler:220)
 Sleep

Co-sleeping: regulator of breathing
(McKenna:221)
 Childrearing
values
expresses & inculcates
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com

attention to crying
Importance of cultural
sensitivity. But also
consider issues of power
and choice.
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com
“I know I have helped residents
broaden their views when their
lectures on good mothering are
replaced by such comments as ‘What
a gorgeous baby! I can’t imagine how
you manage both work and three
others at home!” (Tronick:218)
HOLISM AND BIOCULTURAL
 Humans
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com
born “neurologically
unfinished” (218)
 Heart rates and breathing are social
from the beginning
 Natural brain development during
intense nurture
 Anthropological holism questions
nature/nurture dichotomy
 No human nature outside of particular
history and nurture
 No baseline parenting pattern – long
histories in diverse environments
BIOCULTURAL ORGANISMS
 Most

Lavenda and Schultz, Anthropology: What
Does It Mean to be Human? 2012:6-7
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com
anthropologists reject explanations
of human behavior that force them to
choose either biology or culture as the
unique cause. Instead, they emphasize
that human beings are biocultural
organisms. . . .
 Human biology makes culture possible;
human culture makes human biological
survival possible.
IMPORTANT CLARIFICATIONS
 Parenting
as a social process, not just
individual variation

Could a parent in the U.S. implement the
Dutch “three Rs”?
“Many aspects of Dutch society support
the three Rs throughout infancy and
childhood” (Harkness and Super:217)
 Will
still and always be variation
within pattern

(and a lot of co-sleeping goes on in the
U.S.)
 Babies
are active co-participants, not
just passive recipients
©2013 Jason Antrosio,
www.livinganthropologically.com

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