Women can bear children; men cannot. The author explores why women fail to realize more power from their ability to procreate. An instance is considered in which the practice and resistance of female Australian Aboriginal adolescents created circumstances in which their sexuality and reproduction were largely uncontrolled. The products of women's reproductive ability, children, are socially appropriated, but not women's reproductive abilities. The author views gender as a system of power relations both generated and changed in the quotidian interactions between human males and females. Adolescent sexuality and reproduction in Mangrove, and culture, power, and reproduction are discussed. The author finds women's sexual and reproductive freedom, as it is currently experienced by adolescent girls in Mangrove, to be supported by the confluence of the following factors: the diminished force of ideologies which may circumscribe women's behavior, the control of male violence, and the appreciation of motherhood and of any child simply by virtue of its being a child. It is unclear how long this arrangement will persist. Changes which may presage diminished freedom for women can already be discerned. Women's sexual and reproductive freedom are clearly human possibilities, but they are possibilities which can easily be denied.
This report documents an example of interactions of cultural change with adolescent fertility and marriage patterns in an East African community. Between 1950 and 1980 the rate of unwed motherhood in Ngeca, Kenya, showed a marked increase from 0% in the 1940s to 11.4% in the 1960s. The authors present evidence of recent changes in Kikuyu culture that may account for this change. Traditional Kikuyu culture structured adolescence through status and role changes bounded and reinforced by ritual and instruction. Abandonment of traditional initiation rites and attenuation of the age-set system have most markedly altered the structure of adolescent experience by shifting the content and context of socialization. Major agents for change in this process have been the school, church, and modern economy. Responsibility for mate selection has remained with young people, but the determinants of partner desirability and gender ratios in partner availability have shifted considerably. Traditional criteria of male desirability included ability to pay bridewealth and to provide the wife with land; diligence and demeanor measured female attractiveness. At present, education and wage earning capacity affect partner attractiveness of each sex. The decline of polygyny has both shifted the balance of competition for spouses toward females, and has had significant repercussions in the marital and reproductive histories of males. Decreases in brideprice and reversals in direction of transfers of wealth at marriage are tangible signs of change in the marriage market. Deritualization of genital operations and attendant weakening of the age-set system have interrupted the flow of information on sex behavior and reproduction, controlled physical intimacy, and partner selection reinforced by peer pressure. Denial of contraception, the continued importance of marriage and fertility, and ambivalence toward sexual activity in adolescence all support adolescent sexual experimentation and increasing rates of premarital pregnancy.
The mode of thought termed formal operations allows individuals to cope with the requirements of mature functioning in society as their social horizons expand. This paper investigates the development of this thought process during adolescence in Nigerian subjects. The researchers launched the investigation based upon concerns that research findings in non-Western cultures may reflect the cultural biases of Western-rooted measures use in addition to problematic testing materials. Findings are presented from a study of the development of causal inference and the effect of sex differences in the development of cognitive skills in 96 youths aged 10-18 years from the Ekise of Amakiri, an Ijo town in the Niger Delta. Overall development of causal reasoning was found across age in participants. While the 10-12 year olds may not achieve formal operations with the frequency of Americans in the age group, Nigerians close the gap by age 18. These results confirm the hypothesis that problems which test experimental logic with culturally familiar materials are more useful in correctly gauging the cognitive abilities of subjects uncomfortable in a formal testing situation and unfamiliar with laboratory materials used in most Piagetian tests. Minimal differences were observed between scores of males and females aged 10-12, but female scores dropped compared to men's between ages 12-17. A reequilibrium of cognitive ability did, however, take place for ages 17 and 18 years.
The focus of the study was an examination of the structure of the concept of self of Thai Muslim adolescents with whom research was conducted on their physical, social, and psychological development from 1982 to 1983. The self was defined as the related components of the physical self and the psychological self. A research strategy of fallibility reduction through a multiplicity of indexes was used based on six indexes of their formulation of self. The data were obtained from Nipa Island in Krabi province from 115 adolescents in 82 of the households located at the center of the island. 78 adolescents were used in testing the communalities of 29 attributes. Factor analysis (analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of variance) showed that there was little difference between the sexes except on Factor 1 (philandering, hippyish, boastful, and leading others astray) (p 0.05). Both sexes wanted to develop themselves to be less regarded as having the above attributes in the future; but the degree of desired change was more pronounced among males than among females (p 0.05). Males also scored themselves as being more philandering than did females (p 0.01). Regarding the issue of autonomous self, females expressed stronger desire than males to be oneself in their future self-orientation (p 0.05). Age was categorized into four groups: 10.0-13.9 years old, 14.0-16.9 years old, 17.0-19.9 years old, and 20.0-22.9 years old. Birth order was coded as first-born, middle-born, and last-born. The second age group rated themselves higher than the other age groups on Factor 3 attributes (swaggering, indolent, and flirtatious). Middle-born sons were more imbued with a negative set of behavioral attributes on Factor 1, while last-born adolescents expressed the strongest desire to improve themselves regarding Factor 2 (gossipy, abusive, gullible, and leading others astray) (p = 0.060). Early maturers, who had the early onset of puberty, expressed more negative behaviors contained in Factor 1 (p 0.01).
Psychiatrists and anthropologists have taken distinct analytic approaches when confronted with differences between emic and etic models for distress: psychiatrists have translated folk models into diagnostic categories whereas anthropologists have emphasized culture-specific meanings of illness. The rift between psychiatric and anthropological research keeps "individual disease" and "culture" disconnected and thus hinders the study of interrelationships between mental health and culture. In this article we bridge psychiatric and anthropological approaches by using cultural models to explore the experience of nerves among 27 older primary care patients from Baltimore, Maryland. We suggest that cultural models of distress arise in response to personal experiences, and in turn, shape those experiences. Shifting research from a focus on comparing content of emic and etic concepts, to examining how these social realities and concepts are coconstructed, may resolve epistemological and ontological debates surrounding differences between emic and etic concepts, and improve understanding of the interrelationships between culture and health.
We introduce a special issue of Ethos devoted to the work of Jerome Bruner and his careerlong attempts to seek innovative ways to foster a dialogue between psychology and anthropology. The articles in this special issue situate Bruner's meaning-centered approach to psychology and his groundbreaking work on narrative in the broader context of the developmental trajectory of both of fields of inquiry. Bruner's work has been enormously influential in the subfields of cultural psychology and psychological anthropology, especially because of his important contributions to our understanding of the intimate relationship between culture and mind. We examine Bruner's past and ongoing engagement with such luminary figures as Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, Alfred Kroeber, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Clifford Geertz to highlight points of convergence and tension between his version of cultural psychology and contemporary theorizing and practice in psychological anthropology. We also review his practical and theoretical contributions to the fields of medicine, law, and education.
In this article I consider "narrative mind reading," the practical capability of inferring the motives that precipitate and underlie the actions of others. Following Jerome Bruner, I argue that this everyday capacity depends on our ability to place action within unfolding narrative contexts. While Bruner has focused on narrative mind reading as a within-culture affair, I look to border situations that cross race and class lines where there is a strong presumption among participants that they do not, in fact, share a cultural framework. Instead, interactions often reinforce actors' perceptions of mutual misunderstanding and cultural difference. Drawing on a longitudinal study of African American families who have children with severe illnesses, I examine narrative mind reading and misreading in one mother's interactions with the clinicians who treat her child. I further explore how narrative misreadings are supported through chart notes and "familiar stranger" stories. The focus on miscommunication grounds a theory of the reproduction of cultural difference in interactive dynamics and brings Bruner's emphasis on narrative into dialogue with contemporary anthropology of cultural borderlands.
This article develops an analysis of how different generations in both rural and urban areas of East Madagascar remember a violent anticolonial rebellion that took place in 1947 and places these memories in the context of various state regimes' efforts to create competing narrations of the events. I show how rural and urban elders, rural and urban youth, and former soldiers remember the 1947 rebellion in different, but overlapping, ways. Rather than viewing the overall pattern as a simple reflex of the particular narratives people use, I suggest that their memories are best viewed as a complex outcome of the ways in which people's "moral projects" shape their selection, use and interpretation of particular narratives, thereby accounting for the considerable heterogeneity in the ways 1947 is remembered. Such a reading attempts to move beyond the tendency within cultural historical studies to focus solely on narrative dynamics to a more nuanced understanding of the interaction between narrative and context in the making of memory.
Abstract On May 19, 2000, armed rebels stormed the Fiji Parliament, unleashing months of political turmoil and military and civilian violence. Indo-Fijians were among the hardest hit as racial violence targeting their communities spread rapidly across the nation. Among the variety of their responses to these traumatic events were moments of spontaneous joking and laughter. In this article I examine how, in a time of intense fear and confusion, a sense of “normality” and a return to the “everyday” were constructed through such collective acts of humor. Following up on Freud's fleeting acknowledgement of the thin line that separates the frighteningly familiar or uncanny (das Unheimliche) from the pleasurably and absurdly incongruous, I consider the role that humor came to play in both acknowledging and tempering the specter of uncertainty that haunted postcoup constructions of sociality.