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Growing Up in a Culture of Respect

Growing Up in a Culture of Respect

Inge Bolin
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    Growing Up in a Culture of Respect
    Book Description:

    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 child-rearing 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. Throughout her discussion, 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79597-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    It has been sixteen years since I first ventured to Chillihuani, a village of dispersed settlements of small adobe houses perched against the barren Andean landscape. At first it was difficult to comprehend how survival could be possible within this steep, marginal environment, with its extreme weather conditions and only the most basic tools available in the struggle to subsist. It was even more difficult to imagine how children could grow up to be healthy while living in dire poverty, exposed to the vagaries of a severe climate without a heating system, running water, or any other convenience.

    As time...

  6. CHAPTER 1 From the Womb to the Cradle
    (pp. 16-32)

    In the high Andes, people must live in widely dispersed settlements to provide enough pastureland for their animals. Yet they are gregarious, they love company, and they are especially fond of children, whose births are greeted with great joy. Unfortunately little is known about pregnancy, birth, and the socialization of children in these remote regions. Documents on Inca and pre-Inca societies give us at most sketchy information (J. Rowe [1946] 1963:282), and not much more is known about these events from present-day herding societies. This is in part due to the fact that remote villages close themselves off to outsiders....

  7. CHAPTER 2 Early Childhood
    (pp. 33-61)

    Chillihuani’s children amazed me in many ways. From the first moment I arrived in their village, I was captivated by their respectful behavior, self-confident demeanor, and astonishing creativity. In July of 1990, when I met three-year-old Anali in her home located at almost 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level, she came to greet me in Quechua. Living so far from the mainstream of society, this was her first meeting with a foreigner, but she did not seem to mind that I looked, spoke, and acted differently from the people around her. While her parents were busy preparing a meal,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Children at Play and Work
    (pp. 62-81)

    In the high Andes, where people cling to the very margins of existence, children’s play and work activities differ in many respects from those found in more affluent societies. Play and work are coherently integrated within the herders’ overall philosophy.Work ethics are shaped by respect and by the ever-present necessity to make a living in a marginal environment. Far away from the modern conveniences of a city, play and work merge into one entity that includes pleasure, pride, and survival strategies.

    In this chapter I will separate play and work where possible in order to conform to Western ways of...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Many Faces of Learning
    (pp. 82-108)

    When school principal Aníbal Durán and the teachers I met in Cusipata told me that the children of Chillihuani who continue schooling in the valley are always at the top of the class, I was eager to find out why. The teachers observed that a competitive attitude is not pronounced among these herders, which makes their children’s academic achievements even more surprising. Before I had ever climbed to their village, I knew that the people in this herding society had something special going for them, since survival in a marginal region requires considerable physical and mental capacities. But I never...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Rituals and Ceremonies on Top of the World
    (pp. 109-134)

    Rituals and ceremonies are significant aspects of Andean culture. They are believed to be as important to the well-being of people, animals, and all of nature as are pastoral and agricultural activities. Rituals carry deep-seated values of Andean society that are not easily understood by outsiders. I agree with Victor Turner (1969:11), who said that in order to perceive the underlying meaning of rituals, ‘‘one must try to discover how the indigenous people themselves feel and think about their own rituals.’’¹

    Certain details in the performance of rituals differ between villages and even among families of the same village. The...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Adolescence: A Time of Many Challenges
    (pp. 135-149)

    The sun has set and it is icy-cold as the wind blows from the snowy mountain peaks on this July 27, the middle of the Andean winter. But the adolescent girls and boys seem unaffected by the weather and the many hours they have spent traversing the precipitous landscape in search of branches, roots, and dry grass for the bonfire to be lit tonight, the eve of Peru’s Independence Day. Their smiles reveal the excitement of this fiesta, which starts tonight and will last through tomorrow. In Peru’s towns and cities, Independence Day celebrations on July 28 are marked by...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Building a Society of Respect
    (pp. 150-160)

    Long before I met the Chillihuani herders I anticipated that survival in a marginal environment would require special skills and moral values promoting cooperation among people and respect for all forms of life. Before I actually lived in the highly egalitarian society of Chillihuani, however, I could not imagine that a culture where the competitive attitude is minimized would produce people who excel in so many ways. Neither could I fathom that children who learn only through observation could easily grasp complex ideas and put them into practice. Perhaps most surprising was to witness children who grow up in extreme...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 161-178)
    (pp. 179-186)
    (pp. 187-204)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 205-214)