It is my opinion that there is an urgent need for a holistic view of childhood, an opinion likely shared by all anthropologists studying childhood. Lancy’s book does an excellent job moving us toward this goal. The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings will be a valuable addition to the classroom, exposing students to the variety of childhoods around the world. It will also serve as an excellent reference for scholars of childhood, both within and, more importantly, outside of anthropology.
American Journal of Human Biology (2010) 22:140–141
The scope of this book is vast, bringing in findings from primatology, as well as ideas from evolutionary and biological anthropology, to give a well rounded and comprehensive guide to children’s lives in many parts of the world. In doing so Lancy challenges many taken for granted assumptions about childhood, breathes new life into the stale nature–nurture debate, and reminds us of the many different ways of raising children while also suggesting reasons for these differences. In doing so he refutes the accusation…that “anthropologists don’t like children.” In this warm and witty book, Lancy shows that not only does this particular anthropologist like children, but that he also likes writing about them, conveying an infectious enthusiasm for a subject that fascinates him.
American Ethnologist (2009) 36: 823-824
Lancy opens the door for a spirited and engaged discussion of anthropological work on children and childhood. His analysis is complex [yet] he conveys his passion about the well-being of children regardless of geographic location. Lancy does not shy away from controversy [and] the perspective he provides on children around the world is a valuable contribution to the anthropological literature that will stimulate further research and thinking.
Current Anthropology (2010) 51: 446-448
This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the role children play in the international network of sweatshops, slavery, and prostitution. The meaning of childhood, as most Americans understand it, is radically at odds with the meaning of childhood on other continents. Whereas most third-world societies are “gerontocracies” that prioritize the needs of adults over those of children, ours is a “neontocracy” that puts the needs and desires of children first.
ForeWord Magazine (2009) March-April
…essential reading for a broad audience interested in how children are imagined and treated in different societies as well as in different historical epochs.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2010) 16: 164-208
The book is a significant contribution to the field. Furthermore, it is warm, incredibly engaging, and marvelously comprehensive – the bibliography alone is invaluable. It is also a great teaching text.
Ethos (2011) 39: 1-3
The book is an amazing source of detailed information on children in diverse cultures, but also incorporates much information on primatology, evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, history, and even archaeology. In a short review I can not give even a sampling of the fascinating and important information I learned, but I guarantee that any reader will learn a great deal and should ingest much to chew and then ponder.
Play Review (2009) 31 (4): 7-8
The Anthropology of Childhood’s exhaustive literature review, careful cross-cultural examination of children, and synthetic analysis provide important insights into all aspects of childhood, as well as setting a new standard for scholarship on the subject.
Journal of Anthropological Research (2010) 66: 265-266