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

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

Heather Montgomery

ISBN: 978-1-405-12591-8

Oct 2008

296 pages

In Stock

$121.95

Description

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.
  • Offers a comprehensive overview of childhood from an anthropological perspective
  • Draws upon a wide range of examples and evidence from different geographical areas and belief systems
  • Synthesizes existing literature on the anthropology of childhood, while providing a fresh perspective
  • Engages students with illustrative ethnographies to illuminate key topics and themes

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

“Although this work will be most useful for an upper-level undergraduate audience, more advanced readers will also enjoy it for its readability, the considerable breadth of literature covered, and its serious attempt to place children at the forefront of anthropology.”  (Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 1 April 2011)

""Heather Montgomery illustrates the many ways that anthropologists have written about children over the past 150 years with enviable clarity and economy. Her book will be required reading for students, academics, and professionals in understanding childhood in context."" (Journal of Folklore Research, 19 January 2011)

""An Introduction to Childhood is nicely written and makes the case well for undergraduate audiences that it is important to consider cultural differences in ideas about childhood. This is a timely issue and the book should be a useful addition to introductory undergraduate courses."" (International Joumal of Sociology of the Family, February 2010)

""A timely, readable, and important work for all academic libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended."" (CHOICE, October 2009)

""This book deserves a wide audience; it is an important resource not only for students of anthropology but also to people working in child protection in cross-cultural settings. ... Invaluable."" (Children & Society, 2009)

""Throughout the book, the discussions give an insight into classic and contemporary anthropology related to children, which is important for everyone working with research in similar fields. The book is especially relevant for students. The style is clear and approachable … .Although it is not required of the reader to read the book from cover to cover, I strongly recommend doing so."" (Childhood in the Past, 2009)


  • Offers a comprehensive overview of childhood from an anthropological perspective

  • Draws upon a wide range of examples and evidence from different geographical areas and belief systems

  • Synthesizes existing literature on the anthropology of childhood, while providing a fresh perspective

  • Engages students with illustrative ethnographies to illuminate key topics and themes