Dalhousie University                                

Fall 2006

SOSA 3149


Professor Liesl L. Gambold                            

Class Meeting: Monday 4:05-6:55pm

Office: 3114 Mc Cain Building                                   

2021 McCain Building

e-mail: lgmiller@dal.ca
phone: 494-3689
office hours: Monday 3-4pm; Wed 1:30-2:30 or by appointment


                                                The Course

This course will explore questions such as these by investigating the cultural construction of infancy and young childhood. We will emphasize the first year of life but in some cases will also consider toddlers and older children. In studying infant development and socialization patterns, we will constantly inquire: What is universal, what is near universal, and what is indisputably variable? At all points in the course we will try to maintain a balance among three perspectives: those of the infant her/himself; those of the parents and other caretakers; and relevant cultural and historical factors that shape both these. The course also seeks to maintain a balance between the biological, cultural and social nature of human behavior.


Expectations and Assignments


The Afterlife is Where We Come From by Alma Gottlieb (The University of Chicago Press 2004)
Available at the Dalhousie University bookstore.

Course Reading Packet
Available at Julia’s Printing Center 1525 LeMarchant (corner of Coburg and LeMarchant), 425-4722. Mon – Fri 8:30-5:00.



Class Discussion and Presentation

Because this class requires a fair amount of discussion, you MUST do the reading BEFORE the day on which it is assigned. Part of each class period will be devoted to discussing the readings and answering questions about the readings that the discussion leader will have prepared. If you do not do the reading you will be unable to participate in the class and this will hurt your grade.
Please Note:

Please feel free to come see me during office hours. I am always happy to talk to students about course material or just to chat. I may also be reached by phone during my office hours but anyone physically present in my office will be given priority. At other times it is best to e-mail me, but be aware that I am not always able to check or respond to my e-mail everyday (I do not have e-mail at home!). If you are having difficulties making my office hours, please contact me so that we can set up an appointment.

Students with disabilities should register as quickly as possible at Student Accessibility Services if they want to receive academic accommodations. To do so please phone 494-2836, e-mail disabilities@dal.ca, or drop in at the Kilam G28.

Your writing greatly influences your mark in this class. I understand that everyone has different abilities in terms of expressing themselves in a written format versus spoken, that is why there are both written and verbal components to the class. I firmly believe, however, that with a university degree, you should be able to write confidently, clearly, incisively, and with correct grammar, punctuation, spelling and referencing. Please take advantage of any university support as well as peer support to improve your writing skills; it will be time well spent.

Plagiarism involves borrowing material (wording, information or ideas, or the organization of those ideas) without acknowledging the source. This covers everything from forgetting to use quotation marks and mentioning the author’s name (a citation) to deliberately copying or buying a whole paper and turning it in as your own. Make no mistake about the seriousness of this. Plagiarism is a crime and the punishment is severe.
Please consult the Dalhousie web site for more information on Academic Honesty and familiarize yourself with these ideas and proper forms of citation. Ask me if you are unclear – doing so shows that you care about your work and academic integrity. It is fantastic to acknowledge an intellectual debt to someone, but be sure to do it correctly.

Each student must sign up for and complete on reading presentation. This means that you are responsible for that particular reading. This assignment is two-part. Part one:You must first lead the classroom discussion for 15 minutes. You will be timed, meaning, you must be prepared with approximately 7 minutes of presentation material and then allow for an equal amount of time for discussion. You should ask questions of the students, engage them in critical analysis and conversation, ask them to debate, break them into small groups…BE CREATIVE! Part two: you will hand in a 2-3 page (double spaced) critical analysis of the reading – this is NOT a summary or a “book report” – this is a critically engaged handling of the material. I will speak more about this in class.


Grade Evaluation

1 Observation Paper (3 pages)                                                20%
1 Reading Presentation & Critical Response Paper                 25%
1 Reading-based Research Paper (5-7 pages)                          45%
Attendance and Participation                                                  10%
You will be given further instruction on the observation and the research paper in class. The observation paper will be based on an observation you will be asked to do in a public setting, so start thinking about where small children or youth hang around! The research paper will ask you to choose from a few topics/questions that I will provide you. These will be based on reading material and you will need to also find at least two more sources to supplement what you’ve already read in class.

As you can see, regular attendance and participation is essential for getting a good grade in this class.

GRADE VALUES (standard for the SOSA department):


Percentage Grade Value

Grade Point Value







Considerable evidence of original thinking; demonstrated outstanding capacity to analyze and synthesize; outstanding grasp of subject matter; evidence of extensive knowledge base.















Evidence of grasp of subject matter, some evidence of critical capacity and analytical ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with the literature.















Evidence of some understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems; benefitting from his/her university experience.














Marginal Pass

Evidence of minimally acceptable familiarity with subject matter, critical and analytical skills .





Insufficient evidence of understanding of the subject matter; weakness in critical and analytical skills; limited or irrelevant use of the literature.


If you are perpetually late or missing class you need to contact me immediately to let me know what is going on. Do not wait.



09/11   Pass Out Course Guidelines and Syllabus

09/11   Introduction
            Introduction to Course Concepts


09/18  Historical Perspectives
Readings:           Small, M.F., "Other Parents, Other Ways," Chapter 3 of Our babies, ourselves: How biology and culture shape the way we parent. (Doubleday, 1998), pp.71-108.

DeLoache & Gottlieb, "If Dr. Spock Were Born in Bali", Chapter 1 of A World of Babies (Cambridge University Press 2000), pp.1-27.


            Conception & Pregnancy

Readings:           McCarthy, L.F. "What babies really know inside the womb," Parenting,
                        (December 1998/January 1999), pp.120-125.

Pierroutsakos, S., selection from "Infants of the Dreaming: A Warlpiri guide to childcare," in A.W.O.B., pp.151-161.

Delaney, C., selection from "Making Babies in a Turkish Village," in A.W.O.B., pp.123-130.

Ragone, H, "Surrogate Motherhood," in (eds.) Brettell, C. and Sargent, C.  Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, ( Prentice Hall, 2005). pp.471-480.


09/25  Childbirth     

Readings:           Biesele, M., “An Ideal of Unassisted Birth,” in R.E.Davis-Floyd & C.F. Sargent (eds.), Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge (University of California Press, 1997), pp. 474-492.

                        Gottlieb, Alma, The Afterlife is Where We Come From, Through Part One (up to page 75).

10/02  Circumcision

Readings:           Dr. Christiane Northrup, “How Circumcision May Be Affecting Your Love Life” (pp. 1-7). Newsletter, vol. 8, no. 6, June 2001.
“AAP Updates its Recommendations on Circumcision,” (5/15/99) by Dr. Verna Rose (Hand-out)

Gruenbaum, E.  "Female Genital Cutting," in (eds.) Brettell, C. and Sargent, C.  Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, ( Prentice Hall, 2005). pp. 481-494.


            Toilet Training

Readings:           de Vries, Martin W. & de Vries, M.R., "The cultural relativity of toilet training readiness: A perspective from East Africa," Pediatrics,  60 (2) (1977), pp. 170-177.

                        Gottlieb, Alma, The Afterlife is Where We Come From pp. 79-135.

Pass out topics for observation papers

10/09              HAPPY THANKSGIVING (no class)

10/16               Health and Risk: Breast-Feeding

Readings:           Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer. "Old Tradeoffs, New Contexts," Chapter 14 in Mother Nature: Maternal instincts and how they shape the human species, (Ballantine Books, 1999), pp. 351-380.

Khatib-Chahidi, Jane, "Milk Kinship in Shi'ite Islamic Iran," in Vanessa Maher (ed.), The Anthropology of Breast-feeding: Natural law or social construct (Berg, 1992), pp.109-132.

Gottlieb, Alma, The Afterlife is Where We Come From  pp. 136-219.

10/23              Health and Risk: Infant Mortality, Neglect, Infanticide

Readings:           Scheper-Hughes, N., "Mother Love and Child Death in Northern Brazil," in J.W. Stigler, R.A. Shweder, & G. Herdt (eds.), Cultural Psychology: Essays on comparative human development (Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp.542-565.

Gottlieb, Alma, The Afterlife is Where We Come From  pp. 220-265.


10/30              Sleeping Practices

Readings:           Small, M.F., "A Reasonable Sleep," Chapter 4 of Our Babies, Ourselves: How biology and culture shape the way we parent (Doubleday, 1998), pp. 109-137.

Wolf, A.W., Lozoff, B., Latz, S., & Paludetto, R., "Parental theories in the management of young children's sleep in Japan, Italy, and the United States," in S. Harkness & C.M. Super (eds.), Parents Cultural Belief Systems: Their origins, expressions, and consequences (Guilford Press, 1996), pp.364-384.
                        The Globe & Mail article: “The Hidden Perils of Bed Sharing” 7/19/03

10/30      OBSERVATION PAPERS DUE in class

            **** PASS OUT TOPICS FOR FINAL PAPERS ****


11/06               Temperament & Emotion

Readings:           Bronfenbrenner, Urie. “Upbringing in the Soviet Family,” and “The                                      Psychological Implications of Soviet Methods of Upbringing,” in Two                                  Worlds of Childhood (Russell Sage Foundation 1970).

de Vries, M.W., "Cry Babies, Culture, and Catastophe: Infant temperament among the Masai," in N. Scheper-Hughes (ed.), Child Survival: Anthropological approaches to the treatment and maltreatment of children (Reidel, 1987), pp. 165-186.

11/13               REMEMBRANCE DAY – NO CLASS

11/20               Attachment

Readings:           Harwood, R.L., Muller, J.G., & Irizarry, N.L., "Child Development and Theories of Culture," Chapter 2 of Culture and Attachment: Perceptions of the Child in Context (Guilford Press, 1995), pp. 19-37.

Hrdy, S.B., "Meeting the Eyes of Love," Chapter 16 of Mother Nature, pp.394-407.

                        Wardle, Huon, “Choosing Parents,” in F. Bowie (ed), Cross-Cultural
                        Approaches to Adoption, (Routledge 2004), pp. 197-208.


 11/20              Mental & Moral Development

Readings:           Brownlee, Shannon, "Baby Talk," U.S. News & World Report (June 15, 1998), pp.48-55.

Lanham, Betty, "Ethics and Moral Precepts Taught in Schools of Japan and the United States," in (ed.s) Lebra, T. and Lebra, W. Japanese Culture and Behavior (University of Hawaii Press, 1984). Pp. 280-296).

            Tobin, Joseph J. et. al. “Introduction” and “Komatsudani: A Japanese           Preschool,” in. Preschool in Three Cultures, (Yale University Press 1989), pp. 2-71.


11/27               Warfare & Poverty
Readings:           Olujic, Maria B., “Children in Extremely Difficult Circumstances: War and its aftermath in Croatia,” in (eds.), Nancy Scheper-Hughes & Carolyn Sargent, Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood (University of California Press, 1998), pp. 318-330.

Readings:           Bourgois, Philippe, “Families and Children in Pain in the U.S. Inner City,”
in (eds.), Nancy Scheper-Hughes & Carolyn Sargent, Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood (University of California Press, 1998), pp. 331-351.


12/04              Final Discussion


Gottlieb, Alma, The Afterlife is Where We Come From  pp. 266-305.


12/05              TUESDAY     2pm    FINAL PAPERS DUE