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An Introduction to Childhood. Anthropological Perspectives on Children's Lives

  • ID: 2246856
  • Book
  • September 2008
  • 296 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd

In An Introduction to Childhood, Heather Montgomery examines the role children have played within anthropology, how they have been studied by anthropologists and how they have been portrayed and analyzed in ethnographic monographs over the last one hundred and fifty years.

Using a wide range of evidence from a variety of very different societies, this book challenges the idea that there is any one correct way to raise children, or that parents across the globe have the same goals in raising their children, or the same attitudes towards them. Drawing on the rich history of anthropological literature, Montgomery uses key topics to illustrate important issues in the anthropological study of children and childhood. This volume provides a fresh investigation into the diversity of beliefs about childhood as well as the variety of children′s daily lives, looking at issues such as how parents elsewhere raise their children, what they understand as abusive, how children become adults and what both adults and children see as their respective roles and responsibilities.

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Acknowledgments viii

Introduction 1

1 Childhood within Anthropology 17

Introduction 17

Children: The First Primitives 18

Culture and Personality 22

Cross–Cultural Studies of Child–Rearing 26

Children in British Anthropology 34

The Gendered Child 38

Child–Centered Anthropology 43

Conclusion 49

2 What is a Child? 50

Introduction 50

Childhood as a Modern Idea: The Influence of Philippe Ariès 51

Conceptualizations of Childhood 53

Children as Incompetent or Subordinate 56

Children as Equals 61

Children as a Means of Forming Families and Giving Status 63

Children as an Economic Investment 67

Unwanted and Nonhuman Children 70

Conclusion 77

3 The Beginning of Childhood 79

Introduction 79

Fetuses 80

Spirit Children 87

Reincarnation 95

Anomalies 98

Conclusion 103

4 Family, Friends, and Peers 104

Introduction 104

The Role of Parents 105

Adoption and Fosterage 107

Children outside the Family 118

Siblings 121

Friends and Peer Groups 126

Conclusion 132

5 Talking, Playing, and Working 134

Introduction 134

Learning Language 135

Children and Play 141

Work or Play? 149

Conclusion 155

6 Discipline, Punishment, and Abuse 156

Introduction 156

Discipline and Punishment in the Western Tradition 157

Physical Punishment 159

Alternatives to Physical Punishment 166

Who Can Punish Children? 170

Child Abuse 172

Conclusion 179

7 Children and Sexuality 181

Introduction 181

Anthropology, Sexuality, and Childhood 182

Children and Sex: The Influence of Freud 184

Incest and Abuse 187

Ethnographies of Children and Sexuality 190

Child Prostitution 196

Conclusion 200

8 Adolescence and Initiation 201

Introduction 201

What is Adolescence? 202

Adolescence and Globalization 207

Initiation 212

Initiation: A Psychological Approach 215

Initiation and Education 221

Initiation and Gender 224

Initiation: The End of Childhood? 228

Conclusion 231

Conclusion 233

Bibliography 239

Index 270

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Heather Montgomery
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