Infancy and Culture: An International Review and Source Book

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Rosalind B.Johnson et al. | Go to book overview

9

DIVERSE CULTURES, DIVERGENT VIEWS

INFANTS OF ASIA

Laurie A. Van Egeren

No other continent yields the extensive cultural and ethnic diversity of Asia. Certain regions are generally thought of as “Asia,” even by the geographically illiterate. Most people, when asked to identify an Asian locale, would name China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Korea (East Asia), or perhaps Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, or Malaysia (Southeast Asia). But many people are unaware that Asia also consists of three-quarters of the former Soviet Union (Russian Asia), Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Asian Turkey (the Middle East), and India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka (the Indian subcontinent). Racially, linguistically, economically, and psychosocially, the Asian people are highly heterogeneous.

Certainly, conducting infancy research in Asia is a complicated and expensive undertaking. And for the most part, Western scientists have devoted attention to some Asian countries more than others. Why this favoritism? The reasons are unclear. Perhaps we attend primarily to countries that produce large numbers of immigrants to the United States, or it may be that political tensions in various regions deter researchers as a result of potential danger or because of discouragement from the country’s government. Alternatively, governments in areas that suffer extreme privation, illness, and mortality may foster relations with Western researchers in an effort to understand and ameliorate these problems.

Whatever the reasons, research that examines native Asian samples is relatively rare; this chapter details only 42 studies that took place in 14 Asian countries. Although a broad range of Asian countries is represented, nearly a third of the studies take place in the most populous part of the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). The rest are concentrated in Japan (9), Israel (7), and Malaysia (6), with the remainder scattered among China (3), Korea (2), Jordan (2), the Philippines (2), Kuwait

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