Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context)

Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context)

Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context)

Born with the destiny of becoming a Mayan sacred midwife, Chona Pérez has carried on centuries-old traditional Indigenous American birth and healing practices over her 85 years. At the same time, Chona developed new approaches to the care of pregnancy, newborns, and mothers based on her own experience and ideas. In this way, Chona has contributed to both the cultural continuities and cultural changes of her town over the decades.

In Developing Destinies, Barbara Rogoff illuminates how individuals worldwide build on cultural heritage from prior generations and at the same time create new ways of living. Throughout Chona’s lifetime, her Guatemalan town has continued to use longstanding Mayan cultural practices, such as including children in a range of community activities and encouraging them to learn by observing and contributing. But the town has also transformed dramatically since the days of Chona’s own childhood. For instance, although Chona’s upbringing included no formal schooling, some of her grandchildren have gone on to attend university and earn scholarly degrees. The lives of Chona and her town provide extraordinary examples of how cultural practices are preserved even as they are adapted and modified.

Developing Destinies is an engaging narrative of one remarkable person’s life and the life of her community that blends psychology, anthropology, and history to reveal the integral role that culture plays in human development. With extensive photographs and accounts of Mayan family life, medical practices, birth, child development, and learning, Rogoff adeptly shows that we can better understand the role of culture in our lives by examining how people participate in cultural practices. This landmark book brings theory alive with fascinating ethnographic findings that advance our understanding of childhood, culture, and change.

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3 Comments so far »

  1. Michael Feller said,

    Wrote on February 2, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    What an interesting cultural story, May 3, 2011
    By 
    Michael Feller (Larchmont, NY United States) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context) (Hardcover)

    Longitudinal studies have long been the bedrock of the human development research world. In her new book, Barbara Rogoff has developed a creative and interesting variation of this approach in which the key players are the researcher and her subject and the time frame is 35 years. In very clear language, easily accessible to non-social scientists, Dr. Rogoff describes the interesting and important role played by a Mayan sacred midwife in her Guatemalan community, as well as the cultural changes that occur in this community over the course of decades. The influence of culture – in some instances centuries old – on human development is fascinating, as is the equally powerful transformation of cultural practice as the community increases its collective engagement with the modern world. A most enjoyable narrative illustrated with numerous photographs.

    Michael F, EdD

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  2. Michael Cole said,

    Wrote on February 2, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Rare Achievement, July 15, 2011
    By 
    Michael Cole (Solana Beach, ca USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context) (Hardcover)

    This is a beautiful book, a rarity in social science researcgh. If we could get people to understand the ending in a theoretically informed way we might have a better developmental psychology today.

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  3. William Myers said,

    Wrote on February 2, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    an anthropological charmer, June 8, 2011
    By 

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    This review is from: Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Child Development in Cultural Context) (Hardcover)

    Besides being informative, this book is a real charmer to read, and I can’t recommend it enough. It will be especially appreciated by anybody who has lived in a foreign village culture long enough to realize how much mystery lies beyond what they think is familiar, and how little of what goes on they understand even when they think they know. And this is about a traditional midwife, her life and all the culture around her calling, which is especially mysterious territory for many of us—especially us guys. All you returned Peace Corps Volunteers who (like me) struggled in a village to learn a foreign language and culture and came to love people you understood less all the time, will identify with this story. And if you were in Latin America and lived with indigenous peoples, it is for you a must-read.

    Barbara Rogoff is an important academic theorist of human development well known in child development circles for her groundbreaking books and articles that look at what and how children learn through engagement in community with each other and with adults. Intellectually she walks the territory where psychology and anthropology overlap, and her publications generally have to do with the interplay between culture and individual development. But in this one she leaves ventures out away from her dispassionate academic base to engage her heart as well, and the result is a work of art as well as a highly informative ethnographic narrative.

    In my view, this book is likely to turn out to be a classic that beginning university anthropology students may be reading for generations to come.

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