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Afterlife Is Where We Come From The Culture of Infancy in West Africa

ISBN-10: 0226305023
ISBN-13: 9780226305028
Edition: 2004
Authors: Alma Gottlieb
List price: $34.00 Buy it from $10.00
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Description: When a new baby arrives among the Beng people of West Africa, they see it not as being born, but as being reincarnated after a rich life in a previous world. Far from being a tabula rasa, a Beng infant is thought to begin its life filled with  More...

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Book details

List price: $34.00
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 1/1/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 392
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.540
Language: English

When a new baby arrives among the Beng people of West Africa, they see it not as being born, but as being reincarnated after a rich life in a previous world. Far from being a tabula rasa, a Beng infant is thought to begin its life filled with spiritual knowledge. How do these beliefs affect the way the Beng rear their children?In this unique and engaging ethnography of babies, Alma Gottlieb explores how religious ideology affects every aspect of Beng childrearing practices—from bathing infants to protecting them from disease to teaching them how to crawl and walk—and how widespread poverty limits these practices. A mother of two, Gottlieb includes moving discussions of how her experiences among the Beng changed the way she saw her own parenting. Throughout the book she also draws telling comparisons between Beng and Euro-American parenting, bringing home just how deeply culture matters to the way we all rear our children.All parents and anyone interested in the place of culture in the lives of infants, and vice versa, will enjoy The Afterlife Is Where We Come From."This wonderfully reflective text should provide the impetus for formulating research possibilities about infancy and toddlerhood for this century." — Caren J. Frost, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
A Note on Pronunciation
Studying Babies, Studying the Beng
Working with Infants: The Anthropologist as Fieldworker, the Anthropologist as Mother
Do Babies Have Culture? Explorations in the Anthropology of Infancy
The Beng World
Days in the Lives of Beng Babies
Spiritual Beng Babies: Reflections on Cowry Shells, Coins, and Colic
Soiled Beng Babies: Morning Bath, Evening Bath, and Cosmic Dirt
Sociable Beng Babies: Mothers, Other Caretakers, and "Strangers" in a Moral Universe
Sleepy Beng Babies: Short Naps, Bumpy Naps, Nursing Nights
Hungry Beng Babies: Breast Water/Ordinary Water/Sacred Water and the Desire to Breast-feed
Developing Beng Babies: Speaking, Teething, Crawling, and Walking on (a Beng) Schedule
Sick Beng Babies: Spirits, Witches, and Poverty
From Wrugbe to Poverty: Situating Beng Babies in the World at Large
Notes
References
Index

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