First Find Your Child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African Communities

By Paul Riesman | Go to book overview

5
INFANCY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD

My goal in this chapter is to give as full an account as I can of how FulBe and RiimaayBe treat infants and small children. It is my contention that the child-rearing practices of these two sub- groups are essentially the same and that their effects on children are usually the same. Therefore it will be a prime concern to show what the practices are, what their range of variation is, and how children appear to respond to them.

Now, how does one actually show that two things are the same or different? This seems like a logical impossibility at first, since whether you judge two things to be the same or different depends completely on the respects in which you choose to compare them. What I am looking at primarily here are the basic, repetitive actions of mothers and other caretakers that have to do with feeding, cleaning, carrying, protecting, curing, toilet training, playing with the baby, and so on. There is a certain amount of variation among individuals with regard to how skilfully, carefully, or lovingly they do these various things, but I don't think the variation can be said to be between the two groups in which I am interested. Because my study involved both careful and casual observations of a limited number of families and individuals, I was not able to quantify anything except in quite a rough and ready way. To try to compensate for lack of quantification, and to enrich the reader's impressions, I will present many brief vignettes and anecdotes as I go along. This will establish both the kind of data I am using and the manner in which I draw my inferences, and at the same time it will give the reader enough information to check my interpretations and to try out his or her own hypotheses.

-105-

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First Find Your Child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African Communities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • PROLOGUE BURKINA FASO, 1974-76: A PERSONAL MEMOIR xiii
  • REFLEXIVITY IN HUMANISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY 1
  • I - Introduction 8
  • 2 - Global Fulani Society 14
  • 3 - Economy 30
  • 4 - What Life is All About 43
  • 5 - Infancy and Early Childhood 105
  • 6 - Later Childhood 130
  • 7 - Child Development in Fulani Ethnopsychology 160
  • 8 - Self, Identity, and Personality 184
  • 9 - Conclusion 196
  • Theoretical Implications 224
  • Notes 231
  • Bibliography 233
  • Index 237
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