Learning to be a mother

Immigrant parents may have to rebuild their parenting knowledge after migration in keeping up with their new milieu. Comparing two subgroups of Chinese immigrants, economic and knowledge immigrants, this study shows that the construction of different parental ethnotheories can be understood through the characteristics of their parenting knowledge acquisition, social networks, and networking strategies. Findings from ego-network interviews with 15 economic immigrant mothers and 20 knowledge immigrant mothers indicate that the former tends to obtain practical tips and specific instructions directly from experts and acquire practical help from local, coethnic, small and dense networks, while the latter engages in critical peer-based learning in multicultural, open and long-distance networks. This study argues that a social network perspective can shed light on the ‘‘black box’’ of how parenting theories are reconstructed after migration.


Posted in Migrations, Mother | Tagged ,

Language has become a tool for social exclusion

Within a week of the Salzburg Global Seminar’s Statement for a Multilingual World launching in February 2018, the document – which calls for policies and practices that support multilingualism – had received 1.5m social media impressions. The statement opens with some striking facts, including that “all 193 UN member states and most people are multilingual”. It also points out that 7,097 languages are currently spoken across the world but 2,464 of these are endangered. Just 23 languages dominate among these 7,097, and are spoken by over half of the world’s population. As these statistics show, the soundtrack of our lives and the visual landscapes of our cities are multilingual. Languages, in their plurality, enrich our experience of the world and our creative potential. Multilingualism opens up new ways of being and of doing, it connects us with others and provides a window into the diversity of our societies. And yet, despite the more positive statistics above, we are currently witnessing a deep divide.



Posted in Language, Social exclusion | Tagged ,

Origins of Human Innovation and Creativity

Innovation and creativity are two of the key characteristics that distinguish cultural transmission from biological transmission. This book explores a number of questions concerning the nature and timing of the origins of human creativity. What were the driving factors in the development of new technologies? What caused the stasis in stone tool technological innovation in the Early Pleistocene? Were there specific regions and episodes of enhanced technological development, or did it occur at a steady pace where ancestral humans lived? The authors are archaeologists who address these questions, armed with data from ancient artifacts such as shell beads used as jewelry, primitive musical instruments, and sophisticated techniques required to fashion certain kinds of stone into tools.

Providing ‘state of art’ discussions that step back from the usual archaeological publications that focus mainly on individual site discoveries, this book presents the full picture on how and why creativity in Middle to Late Pleistocene archeology/anthropology evolved.


Posted in Creativity, Humans, Innovation | Tagged , ,

Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny

A radical reconsideration of how we develop the qualities that make us human, based on decades of cutting-edge experimental work by the former director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Becoming Human places human sociocultural activity within the framework of modern evolutionary theory, and shows how biology creates the conditions under which culture does its work. Virtually all theories of how humans have become such a distinctive species focus on evolution. Here, Michael Tomasello proposes a complementary theory of human uniqueness, focused on development. Building on the seminal ideas of Vygotsky, his data-driven model explains how those things that make us most human are constructed during the first years of a child’s life.

Tomasello assembles nearly three decades of experimental work with chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children to propose a new framework for psychological growth between birth and seven years of age. He identifies eight pathways that starkly differentiate humans from their closest primate relatives: social cognition, communication, cultural learning, cooperative thinking, collaboration, prosociality, social norms, and moral identity. In each of these, great apes possess rudimentary abilities. But then, Tomasello argues, the maturation of humans’ evolved capacities for shared intentionality transform these abilities–through the new forms of sociocultural interaction they enable–into uniquely human cognition and sociality.


Look inside

Posted in Human evolution | Tagged

The role of women in Greek Tragedies

Considering the time period and the depiction of women in other Ancient Literature – like the Bible – women in Greek tragedies often take surprising character roles. They are depicted as heroic and powerful.

Although most of them still retain gender roles expected of female characters, showing a sense of duty towards the well-being of their family and demonstrating their subordinate position to men, all of them take unexpected turns and rise above what is expected.


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Learning from the values of indigenous culture

“How we see the world determines how we act,” says this video from the charity First Peoples International, which contrasts the Western mindset and the free market economy with the values and economy of indigenous cultures.

In many ways, what the video describes is the shift that humanity has to make in the coming decades – away from competitive individualism, and towards a perspective that sees us as part of a whole, within the natural environment.


Posted in Indigenous culture, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous people, Indigenous psychology | Tagged , , ,

How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger

For more than 30 years, the Inuit welcomed anthropologist Jean Briggs into their lives so she could study how they raise their children. Traveled above the Arctic Circle and lived out on the tundra for 17 months. There were no roads, no heating systems, no grocery stores. Winter temperatures could easily dip below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Briggs persuaded an Inuit family to “adopt” her and “try to keep her alive,” as the anthropologist wrote in 1970.


Read also: Kapluna Daughter: Living with Eskimos

Posted in Inuit, Parenting | Tagged ,

Core High-Level Cognitive Abilities Derived from Hunter-Gatherer Shelter Building

Determining the fundamental cognitive abilities underlying human high-level cognition remains elusive. An examination of the main activities of our first Homo sapiens ancestors offers a normative approach. Because shelter building was critical for a nomadic hunter-gatherer and required comprehension and manipulation of the knowledge for predicting, controlling and creating, I examined shelter building. I first conducted a theoretical analysis of the necessary steps to imagine and then construct a temporary shelter in the African savanna, including the underlying cognitive abilities to do so. I then compared the results to a case study of grass-hut building by a modern-day San tribe community in Botswana, Africa. The analysis provides a set of core cognitive abilities required for shelter building, which may represent the core cognition underlying our physical intelligence. Future examination of the other primary activities of our first ancestors should help produce a complete list of our fundamental high-level cognitive abilities. Keywords: High-level cognition; cognitive modeling; evolutionary psychology and neuroscience; anthropology.


Posted in Cognition, Hunter-gatherer | Tagged ,

Visiting the Ancient City of Babylon

After passing through the checkpoint and doing the security check, I found myself in front of a replica of the Ishtar Gate; this marks the entry into the old city of Babylon. No one was there; the employees were sleeping. I and my cousin went through a large courtyard, where the “Nebuchadnezzar Museum” lies; this museum was looted by local criminals during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 CE and has been closed ever since.

Then, I faced the processional street. The street is long and is divided into three parts. The first and third parts are surrounded by fences to prevent people from entering. The original tiles are still in situ! Former president Saddam Hussein ordered the reconstruction and renovation of the ancient city of Babylon during 1980s CE and some of the walls, foundations, and buildings were buried and were replaced by modern ones.


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How Culture shapes your Mind — and your mental illness

Culture shapes who we are, so it follows that it would also shape our manifestations of stress, mental disorder, emotion. Yet, that also implies a kind of messiness that modern psychology and psychiatry, particularly the American kind, have spent the last 100 years struggling to tidy up.

Since their founding, psychology and psychiatry have striven to standardize the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders — to bring some certainty to what can feel like a very uncertain field.


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