Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

Editorial

Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

Editorial

Article excerpt

This edition of the PPPJ is a special issue devoted to the field of pre- and perinatal anthropology (see my editorial in the last issue, and also my 1989 review article in Vol. 3, No. 4 of PPPJ and my earlier article in the special Pre-Congress issue of the PPPANA Journal in 1985). Anthropology is the broadest of the social sciences and takes as its data base all of the 4,000-plus cultures on the planet and the entire course of evolution of our species. Anthropologists typically tend to carry out naturalistic field research and very little in the way of experimentation or clinical work. Fieldworkers, such as Janet and Philip Kilbride and Ben Blount often spend months and even years living with people in other societies, participating in their hosts' way of life, and recording what they experience and learn from their stay. I did much the same among the So of northeastern Uganda and the among Tibetan lamas in Nepal and India.

Anthropology consists of five subdisciplines. Most anthropologists carry out sociocultural research of the sort just mentioned. Physical, or biological anthropologists like Wenda Trevathan, however, are interested in the evolution of our species, and the several species that came before us in what we call the "hominid line." Some anthropologists do archaeology which is the study of human prehistory (archaeology is the one subdiscipline unrepresented in this issue of PPPJ). Still others specialize Qike Ben Blount) in linguistic anthropology which, as the name implies, is the study of the world's languages, their differences and similarities, and how they are acquired by children. And finally, some anthropologists attempt to apply our understanding of human sociocultural dynamics to the solution of current social problems. These are called applied anthropologists. Lois Chetelat's work represents an applied perspective.

The authors in this issue were invited to contribute and they responded admirably. Not only do they demonstrate four of the five subdisciplines of anthropology for us, they also address some crucial topics that may expand our global understanding of the evolutionary and cultural background of pre- and peri-natal psychology. Wenda Trevathan discusses the evolutionary processes that brought about the extreme behavioral helplessness and dependence of the human infant. …

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