- Feeding Nayaka Children and English Readers: A Bifocal Ethnography of Parental Feeding in “The Giving Environment”
- Anthropological Quarterly
- George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research
- Volume 81, Number 3, Summer 2008
- pp. 523-550
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In this article I examine relational child feeding in the Nayaka forest-world and problematize the concept of “nurturing” which interferes with understanding it. Several essentialist and individualist antecedents of “nurturing,” I suggest, conflate child feeding with a one-way, top-down transfer of food; with training, controlling and loving the children; and with rearing them to grow up and separate from their parents. This conflation obscures the Nayaka relational senses which are embedded in an ontology of “living together” and in which child feeding is framed as an instance of sharing between coevals who remain closely related throughout their lives. As well as offering a corrective to “The Giving Environment” (), this article contributes a relational perspective to the study of children among forest-dweller hunter-gatherers. Methodologically, a case is made in the article for “bifocal ethnography” that pays attention not only to the subjects of the study but also—and ethnographically, as well— to selected key notions in the language in which the ethnography is written as a means of limiting readers’ own inherent ontological biases and “fine-tuning” the ethnography.