First Acts of Small Violence: Reflections on Breastfeeding and Enemas in West Africa

  • Alma Gottlieb
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


In conjuring up acts of violence, many Westerners readily picture guns or other unyielding weapons that allow one person to use force against another — including projectile force (via bullets) or, even more, ‘weapons of mass destruction’, which have an enormous capacity to produce a great deal of violence with a minimum of effort. When we consider such acts of violence, many of us likewise readily picture strangers as their perpetrators. The government-funded initiative, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) — which is now administered by local police departments in 49 countries — takes as its earliest goal the socialization of young children into fearing strangers as potential perpetrators of drug-motivated violence.1 Through the program, police officers entering elementary school rooms instruct five-year-old children to shun strangers who might abduct them for unspeakable purposes. Other programs target even younger children for this lesson (Holcombe et al. 1995).


Early Childhood Female Genital Mutilation Critical Race Theory Structural Violence Female Genital Cutting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Afifi, T. O. et al. (2012) Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders: Results from a Nationally Representative U.S. Sample. Pediatrics, 2 July 2012.
  2. Barone, J., Jasutkar, N. and Schneider D. (2009) Later Toilet Training is Associated with Urge Incontinence in Children. Journal of Pediatric Urology, 5(6), 458–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biehl, J. (1991) Rethinking Eco-Feminist Politics. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cary, P. (2007) A Brief History of the Concept of Free Will: Issues that Are and Are Not Germane to Legal Reasoning. Behavioral Science and the Law, 25(2), 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Catalano, S. et al. (2009) Female Victims of Violence. U.S. Dept. of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
  6. Crowton, D. (2005) Is It Time to Potty Train Yet?
  7. DeLoache, J. and Gottlieb, A. (2000) A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Douglas, M. (1966) Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Douglas, M. (1985) Risk Acceptability According to the Social Sciences. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. Douglas, M. (1992) Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Douglas, M. and Wildavsky, Aaron (1982) Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dubow, E. F. and Miller, L. S. (1996) Television Violence Viewing and Aggressive behavior. In T. M. MacBeth (ed.) Tuningin to Young Viewers: Social Science Perspectives on Television, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 117–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farmer, P. (1996) On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from below. Daedalus, 125(1), 261–276, 278–283.Google Scholar
  14. Farmer, P. (2003) Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor. Berkeley: University of California Berkeley Press.Google Scholar
  15. Geertz, C. (1983) [1975] Common Sense as a Cultural System. In C. Geertz (ed.) Local Knowledge, New York: Basic Books, pp. 73–93.Google Scholar
  16. Gottlieb, A. (1993) [1992] Under the Kapok Tree: Identity and Difference in Beng Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gottlieb, A. (2004) The Afterlife Is Where We Come from: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gottlieb, A. and Graham, P. (1994) [1993] Parallel Worlds: An Anthropologist and a Writer Encounter Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gottlieb, A. and Graham, P. (2012) Braided Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greene, A. (2001) How and When Do I Potty Train? Pediatrics Naturally, Dr.
  21. Greene, A. (2009) Is It Safe for Babies to Drink Water? New York Times, 19 August 2009.
  22. Harrell, E. (2012) Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers, 1993–2010.U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. NCJ 239424.
  23. Hessick, C. B. (2007) Violence between Lovers, Strangers, and Friends. Washington University Law Review, 85, 343–407. Scholar
  24. Holcombe, A., Wolery, M. and Katzenmeyer J. (1995) Teaching Preschoolers to Avoid Abduction by Strangers: Evaluation of Maintenance Strategies. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 4, 177–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huesmann, L. R. and Taylor, L. D. (2006) The Role of Media Violence in Violent behavior. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 393–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huygens, P. B. et al. (2002) Hygiène et Socialisation du Nourrisson: Le Lavement Rectal en Milieu Urbain à Bobo Dioulasso. Santé, 12(4), 357–362.Google Scholar
  27. Ladson-Billings, G. and Tate IV, W. F. (1995) Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education. Teachers College Record, 97(1), 47–68.Google Scholar
  28. Lancy, D. (2008) The Anthropology of Childhood; Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  29. McCloskey, L. A., Figueredo, A. J. and Koss, M. P. (1995) The Effects of Systemic Family Violence on Children’s Mental Health. Child Development, 66, 1239–1261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moore, D. A. and Moore, N. L. (1998) Paediatric Enema Syndrome in a Rural African Setting. Annals of Tropical. Paediatrics, 18(2), 139–144.Google Scholar
  31. O’Connor, T. (2010) Free Will. In E. N. Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition).
  32. Rape Crisis (England and Wales) (2012) Common Myths about Rape. Rape Crisis (England and Wales). Women’s Health and Equality Consortium.
  33. Rosaldo, M. Z. and Atkinson J. (1975) Man the Hunter and Woman. In R. Willis (ed.) The Interpretation of Symbolism, New York: Wiley, pp. 43–75.Google Scholar
  34. Scheper-Hughes, N. (ed.) (1987) Child Survival: Anthropological Perspectives on the Treatment and Maltreatment of Children. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Scott, H. (2003) Stranger Danger: Explaining Women’s Fear of Crime. Western Criminology Review, 4(3), 203–214.Google Scholar
  36. Segal, I. et al. (1979) Ritual-Enema-Induced Colitis. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, 22(3), 195–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shweder, R. A. (2000) What about Female Genital Mutilation’? And Why Understanding Culture Matters in the First Place. Daedalus, 129(4), 209–232.Google Scholar
  38. Slavin, R. E. (1999) How Can Funding Equity Ensure Enhanced Achievement? Journal of Education Finances, 24, 519–528.Google Scholar
  39. Sturgeon, N. (1997) Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory, and Political Action. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Taylor, C. A. et al. (2010) Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive behavior. Pediatrics, 12 April.
  41. Timyan, J. (1988) Cultural Aspects of Psychosocial Development: An Examination of West African Childrearing Practices. The Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development. A Report Prepared for the Regional UNICEF Workshop: Toward a Strategy for Enhancing Early Childhood Development in the West and Central Africa Region, 18–22 January 1988.Google Scholar
  42. Tsing, A. (1990) Monster Stories: Women Charged with Perinatal Endangerment. In F. Ginsberg and A. Tsing (eds.) Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture, Boston: Beacon Press, pp. 282–299.Google Scholar
  43. U.S. Department of Agriculture (n.d.) Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Departmental Management. Office of Procurement and Property Management. Safety, Health and Employee Welfare Division.Google Scholar
  44. van der Horst, R. L. (1964) The Enema and the African Child. South African Medical Journal, 4 July 1964, 465–466.Google Scholar
  45. Walters, P. B. (2001) Educational Access and the State: Historical Continuities and Discontinuities in Racial Inequality in American Education. Sociology of Education, 74, 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. World Health Organization (2008) Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, Third edition, Incorporating the First and Second Addenda. Volume 1: Recommendations. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  47. World Health Organization (2009) Diarrhoeal Disease. Fact Sheet No. 330, August 2009. Media Centre, World Health Organization.

Copyright information

© Alma Gottlieb 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alma Gottlieb
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations