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A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies [Paperback]

Judy S. DeLoache , Alma Gottlieb
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 18, 2000 0521664756 978-0521664752 1
Are babies divine, or do they have the devil in them? Should parents talk to their infants, or is it a waste of time? Answers to questions about the nature and nurture of infants appear in this book as advice to parents in seven world societies. Imagine what Dr. Spock might have written if he were a healer from Bali...or an Aboriginal grandmother from the Australian desert...or a diviner from a rural village in West Africa. As the seven "child care manuals" in this book reveal, experts worldwide offer intriguingly different advice to new parents. A World of Babies brings alive infant care practices around the world in the form of baby and child care manuals "written" by members of seven real societies. The information, while presented in an imaginative fictive format, is based on extensive research by anthropologists, psychologists, and historians. Encountering fascinating facts about how people in other societies view and raise their babies, readers may be led to see the beliefs and practices of their own society from a new perspective. The creative format of this book brings alive a rich fund of ethnographic knowledge, vividly illustrating a simple but powerful truth: there exist many models of babyhood, each shaped by deeply held values and widely varying cultural contexts. After reading this book, you will never again view child-rearing as a matter of "common sense." Judy DeLoache is Professor of Psychology at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Alma Gottlieb is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This unusual compilation makes for much more fascinating reading than would a strict narrative about international child-rearing practices. The editors (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) present seven societies by way of fictional childcare manuals in the manner of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. Some of the imaginary advisers cited are based on real people (e.g., grandmothers) whom new parents might consult. In some cases, the authors present their own field studies while cautioning that these are "in no way intended to advise members of these societies on how to raise their children." The point is not to prescribe from the conceit of Western society but to report how different cultures view child rearing. All child-rearing practices derive from layers of cultural traditions established through generations, and the similarities and differences among these seven diverse societies are striking. What remains constant is the care of children and their place in each society. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
-Margaret Cardwell, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Every culture thinks that it knows the best way to care for babies. DeLoache and Gottlieb, both professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have gathered fictionalized accounts, based on factual information and including a brief description of the culture, of how various societies throughout history and the world think their offspring should be raised. Each of these accounts is written in a style similar to Dr. Benjamin Spock's child-care manuals, but using the traditions of each represented culture to create an analogous guidebook. This is an entertaining and educational collection of invented guidebooks spanning the globe. Questions such as what is the key to a successful pregnancy, when to bathe the baby, how long to nurse, and how to celebrate the various ceremonies that revolve around a birth are descriptively explained through the eyes of societies such as the Puritans of New England, the Fulani of western Africa, and a Muslim village in central Turkey. This book is an intriguing opportunity to learn about other cultures. Julia Glynn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521664756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521664752
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alma Gottlieb is a cultural anthropologist. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in anthropology and French (1975), and her MA (1978) and PhD (1983) in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia. Among other works, she is the author of The Afterlife Is Where We Come from: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa (2004), and Under the Kapok Tree: Identity and Difference in Beng Thought (1992); the co-author (with Philip Graham) of Braided Worlds (2012) and Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa (1993--winner of the Victor Turner Award/Society for Humanistic Anthropology); the editor of The Restless Anthropologist (2012); and the co-editor of Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation (1988--winner of the Most Enduring Edited Collection Award/Council for the Anthropology of Reproduction) and A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies (2000).

Since 1983, Gottlieb has taught anthropology, women's studies, and African studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; she has also been a visiting professor and researcher at Princeton University, Brown University, the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (Lisbon), the National University of Côte d'Ivoire (Abidjan), Lewis and Clark College (Portland), and elsewhere. Her major field research has been among the Beng people of Côte d'Ivoire and, more recently, among Cape Verdeans with Jewish heritage (on and off the islands). A past president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, her research has been funded by the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and other agencies.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved "A World of Babies" January 12, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Wonderful perspective(s) on raising kids! DeLoache and Gottlieb have succeeded in making "A world of Babies" amusing, yet there's that serious undercurrent of promoting understanding. I recommend it for young moms and dads -- there are lots of good ways to bring up babies. This grandma enjoyed it tremendously. As my own mom used to say, you can make all kinds of mistakes rearing children, but as long as you give them lots of love they'll turn out fine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Amusing December 27, 2005
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. They took all dryess out of an anthroplogic look at babies in diffrent cultures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book! January 5, 2007
By AC
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finsished this book and loved it! It is very informative, but also creative in it's format. I definatly recommend reading it if you are interested in mother/child/family relationships in various cultures in various points in history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
this book shows how babies are cared for and in some ways even honoured in seven societies around the world.some manuals are written by family members and others by respected members of the society in question(fictional members of course)

this is a good book,a change from other baby books in the sense that it is not boring and it may even give you a few tips on improving your relationship with you child or caring for them better
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read! February 4, 2011
Format:Paperback
This book has been great! I suggest it to anyone interested in learning more about other cultures. It arrived on time, thank goodness!
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