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Growing up in a culture of respect: Child rearing in highland Peru

  • Bolin, I.

Far from the mainstream of society, the pastoral community of Chillihuani in the high Peruvian Andes rears children who are well-adjusted, creative, and curious. They exhibit superior social and cognitive skills and maintain an attitude of respect for all life as they progress smoothly from childhood to adulthood without a troubled adolescence. What makes such child-rearing success even more remarkable is that "childhood" is not recognized as a distinct phase of life. Instead, children assume adult rights and responsibilities at an early age in order to help the community survive in a rugged natural environment and utter material poverty. This beautifully written ethnography provides the first full account of childrearing practices in the high Peruvian Andes. Inge Bolin traces children's lives from birth to adulthood and finds truly amazing strategies of child rearing, as well as impressive ways of living that allow teenagers to enjoy the adolescent stage of their lives while contributing significantly to the welfare of their families and the community. Bolin demonstrates that traditional practices of respect, whose roots reach back to pre-Columbian times, are what enable the children of the high Andes to mature into dignified, resilient, and caring adults. Endorsements: "This is a wonderful book, a brilliant book, one that explains Andean culture in a totally unique and fascinating way. Professor Bolin's truly wonderful powers of observation and her sensitivity and receptiveness to Chillihuani culture combine to provide us with a rare opportunity to see and begin to understand a beautiful people whose culture could not be more different from that of the so-called Western world." Thomas M. Davies Jr., Professor Emeritus of Latin American History and Director Emeritus, Center for Latin American Studies, San Diego State University. "Societal changes have consequences, and how a people choose to raise their children reveals much about their values and spirit of place. Andean children (though living with material scarcity) are fully entwined in a network of reciprocal obligations, thereby discovering the meaning of being human. It is this culture of respect that Inge Bolin reveals in this splendid and original book. Wade Davis, Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society, and author of One River and The Serpent and the Rainbow.

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    University of Texas Press