© 1987

Child Survival

Anthropological Perspectives on the Treatment and Maltreatment of Children

  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Part of the Culture, Illness and Healing book series (CIHE, volume 11)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. The Cultural Politics of Child Survival

    1. Nancy Scheper-Hughes
      Pages 1-29
  3. Population, Fertility, and Child Survival

  4. Infanticide: Culturally Sanctioned Child Abuse

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 93-93
    2. Dorothy S. Mull, J. Dennis Mull
      Pages 113-132
  5. Social Trauma: The Effects of Poverty, Social Disruption, and Catastrophe on Child Treatment

  6. Child Abuse: Deviant and Idiosyncratic Child Maltreatment

  7. Child Saving: Problems and Dilemmas in Social Intervention

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 291-291

About this book


of older children, adults, and the family unit as a whole. These moral evaluations are, in turn, influenced by such external contingencies as popula­ tion demography, social and economic factors, subsistence strategies, house­ hold composition, and by cultural ideas concerning the nature of infancy and childhood, definitions of personhood, and beliefs about the soul and its immortality. MOTHER LOVE AND CHILD DEATH Of all the many factors that endanger the lives of young children, by far the most difficult to examine with any degree of dispassionate objectivity is the quality of parenting. Historians and social scientists, no less than the public at large, are influenced by old cultural myths about childhood inno­ cence and mother love as well as their opposites. The terrible power and significance attributed to maternal behavior (in particular) is a commonsense perception based on the observation that the human infant (specialized as it is for prematurity and prolonged dependency) simply cannot survive for very long without considerable maternal love and care. The infant's life depends, to a very great extent, on the good will of others, but most especially, of course, that of the mother. Consequently, it has been the fate of mothers throughout history to appear in strange and distorted forms. They may appear as larger than life or as invisible; as all-powerful and destructive; or as helpless and angelic. Myths of the maternal instinct compete, historically, witli -myths of a universal infanticidal impulse.


Case Management Child Abuse Child Sexual Abuse Child Welfare nutrition planning

Editors and affiliations

  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Child Survival
  • Book Subtitle Anthropological Perspectives on the Treatment and Maltreatment of Children
  • Editors Nancy Scheper-Hughes
  • Series Title Culture, Illness and Healing
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1987
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-55608-028-9
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-55608-029-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-3393-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 397
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Medicine/Public Health, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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`Broadly ranging and often provocative, this volume is a notable attempt to draw together explanations for childhood death. It will stimulate thinking on the levels of child wastage tolerated and accommodated by whole societies and at the same time offerperspectives on the complex casuality of criminal deaths to individual children. The collection provides a new measure of pluralistic and interdisciplinary consideration that should influence future research on child survival issues.'
Odile Frank, Associate Center for Policy Studies, The Population Council
`A powerful and tragic expose of child abuse as an epidemic of the modern world. How aggressive policies against maltreatment mask collective social responsibility.'
Carol B. Stack, Duke University
`This is a well-edited book that offers some compelling, intellectually provocative insights for clinicians and social scientists alike ... Although it clearly qualifies as a textbook and a reference book, it contains several chapters that will strongly interest the clinician.'
The New England Journal of Medicine (1988)