Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing

Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing

by Darcia Narvaez
     
 

The social contexts in which children develop have transformed over recent decades, but also over millennia. Modern parenting practices have diverged greatly from ancestral practices, which included natural childbirth, extensive and on-demand breastfeeding, constant touch, responsiveness to the needs of the child, free play in nature with multiple-aged playmates,

Overview

The social contexts in which children develop have transformed over recent decades, but also over millennia. Modern parenting practices have diverged greatly from ancestral practices, which included natural childbirth, extensive and on-demand breastfeeding, constant touch, responsiveness to the needs of the child, free play in nature with multiple-aged playmates, and multiple adult caregivers. Only recently have scientists begun to document the outcomes for the presence or absence of such parenting practices, but early results indicate that psychological wellbeing is impacted by these factors.

Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution addresses how a shift in the way we parent can influence child outcomes. It examines evolved contexts for mammalian development, optimal and suboptimal contexts for human evolved needs, and the effects on children's development and human wellbeing. Bringing together an interdisciplinary set of renowned contributors, this volume examines how different parenting styles and cultural personality influence one another. Chapters discuss the nature of childrearing, social relationships, the range of personalities people exhibit, the social and moral skills expected of adults, and what 'wellbeing' looks like. As a solid knowledge base regarding normal development is considered integral to understanding psychopathology, this volume also focuses on the effects of early childhood maltreatment. By increasing our understanding of basic mammalian emotional and motivational needs in contexts representative of our ancestral conditions, we may be in a better position to facilitate changes in social structures and systems that better support optimal human development. This book will be a unique resource for researchers and students in psychology, anthropology, and psychiatry, as well as professionals in public health, social work, clinical psychology, and early care and education.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution: Culture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing
provides an invitation to reflect on the fact that human nature is exquisitely complex. The authors of these chapters are well-known researchers from diverse fields. The diversity of backgrounds represented here is one of the main assets of this book. The chapters are masterfully placed in a way that connects ideas and knowledge through diverse perspectives. [The book] is undoubtedly comprehensive in the material it covers. In sum, Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution is a well-written, captivating book." —Alejandra Rossi, PsycCRITIQUES

"The evolutionary roots of human childrearing are superbly illuminated in this deeply moral book. Due respects are paid to relevant sciences and ancestral traditions almost abandoned, with sympathy and understanding. The return of cooperative, loving ways of living may yet counter the abandonment of traditional values evident in the sufferings of our modern dominance-based societies. An exceptional resource for insights into our better nature and nurture."-Jaak Panksepp, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science, Washington State University, and author of Affective Neuroscience and Archaeology of Mind

"This is a magnificent and much needed synthesis of recent scholarship in developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, ethology, neurobiology, epigenetics, and anthropology that converges on the critical tasks of childrearing. It should be widely read by students in all of these fields, as well as by healthcare and educational professionals and policymakers concerned about the future impact of current unprecedented social experimentation with child care, education, family structure, and parenting practices." -Joshua D. Sparrow, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"The authors and editors of Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution examine culture and early life experiences through the prism of evolution, small hunter-gatherer society, and mammalian needs. The volume provides excellent evidence that there is a 'fundamental' basis of common infant care given to social mammals, especially to primates. It examines the range of the evolved, expectable circumstances for mammalian and human development and offers ideas that might lead to better modern human childrearing practices."-Robert Sussman, PhD, Professor of Physical Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

The book succeeds in a number of respects, [noteably] the selection of contributing authors. it would be a gross oversight not to mention the caliber of the team that provided the volume's editing; the brief thumbnail sketches in the 'About the Editors' section make it obvious that, without exception, this is a stellar assemblage. A second area where this volume succeeds is that of topic coverage. [T]he book as a whole provides an exceedingly rich coverage of evolutionary aspects of childhood and parenting. It is hoped that numerous topics will branch off from now and provide widereaching examinations related to the question of optimal childcare and its impact on the developing individual and his/her behavior. With foundations this strong, the field can truly expand and flourish." -Craig Bielert, Andrew C. Gallup, Evolutionary Psychology

Featured in The Scientific & Medical Network Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199964253
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/21/2014
Pages:
364
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Darcia Narvaez is Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Narvaez's research focuses on moral development through the lifespan. Her theories include how early life affects the neurobiology underpinning of moral functioning (triune ethics theory), how evolved parenting practices may foster optimal moral functioning and wellbeing, and how teachers can take steps to foster ethical capacities during regular instruction (integrative ethical education).

Kristin Valentino is Assistant Professor of Psychology and the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Collegiate Chair at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Valentino's research interests are in developmental psychopathology where she studies how the integration of biological, psychological, and environmental factors can inform our understanding of typical and atypical development.

Agustin Fuentes is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Fuentes' current foci include cooperation and bonding in human evolution, ethnoprimatology and multispecies anthropology, evolutionary theory, and public perceptions of, and interdisciplinary approaches to, human nature(s).

James McKenna is Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. McKenna pioneered the first behavioral and electro-physiological studies documenting differences between mothers and infants sleeping together and apart and has become known worldwide for his work in promoting studies of breast feeding and mother-infant cosleeping.

Peter Gray is Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College. Dr. Gray has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, animal behavior, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. His recent research has focused on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves through play.

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