Review on: D. Bonnet, L. Pourchez (2007), Du soin au rite dans l’enfance, IRD Editions, Sous la direction de D. Bonnet et L. Pourchez. Paris. (summary)

© 2011 A.A. Ozhiganova

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Key words: rituals, anthropology of early childhood, children’s care, practices, health preservation, perinatal cultures

Abstrac: The collected monograph «Child care and the rituals of childhood» was prepared by the group of authors from various scientific disciplines (anthropologists, historians, physicians, demographers, psychologists) and different research institutes: Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), L’Institute de recherché pour le development (IRD), Ecole normale superieure.

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The collected articles «Care in the rituals of childhood» was prepared by the group of authors representative of different scientific approaches (anthropologists, historians, physicians, demographers, psychologists) and different Institutes: Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), L’Institute de recherché pour le development (IRD), Ecole normale superieure.

Concerned articles resulted from prolonged investigations passed from 1997 in Africa, Asia and Latin America, united around the idea of research in the anthropology of early childhood.

The book is dedicated to S. Lallemand, who made a valuable contribution to the development of the anthropology of childhood in France.

There are 14 articles united in two parts: I part – «Forming of the body», II part – «Baby as the actor in the ritual». The main themes are: construction of the corpus of babies, making toilet of newborn children, rites of passage, specific rituals (for example, connected with a twin birth).

The connection of such themes as «children’s care» and «ritual life» is a matter of principle in the author’s conception: in spite of the fact that in modern culture children’s care lies completely in the field of profane (hygiene), in traditional cultures the children’s care is completely found to be in the sphere of sacred and manifests itself in diverse rituals.

Each article is of great interest so far as it represents the microexamination of the concrete practice supplemented with the illustrated film. So this collective work according the editor’s words became a real scientific and cinematographic demarche.

We need to pay attention to such peculiarity of this volume as the complete rejection of global questioning of the influence of different practices on the personal character, individuality etc.

However in the conclusion D. Bonnet and L. Pourchez note the fundamental significance of the anthropology of early childhood not only for development of socio-cultural anthropology but also for the making of new alternative conceptions of health and methods of health preservation. Ethnographical studies demonstrate multiplicity of perinatal cultures. This information becomes very pertinent nowadays. We can say about the peculiar discovery of babyhood happening at present that the little child is not yet the object of medical manipulations but a person, a member of the family.

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