Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Transitions in the Life-Course of Women

  • Judith K. Brown
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29907-6_17

Introduction

The Classics

Two works have shaped the anthropological study of life-course transitions: Les Rites de Passage (van Gennep, 1909), which analyzed the initiation into a new status as a three-stage process and, “Continuities and discontinuities in cultural conditioning” (Benedict, 1938/Benedict, 1953), which focused on the transition from childhood to adulthood. Breaking with tradition, the present essay will assume a broader perspective and will include the entire female life-course, and will focus less on analysis and more on description. Ethnographic examples will be drawn from all over the nonindustrialized world, and the “ethnographic present” will represent a variety of ti periods.

The Controversies

The anthropological study of life-course transitions has not been without a history of controversy, particularly in the research on male adolescent initiation rites. J. W. M. Whiting, Kluckhohn, & Anthony (1958)first viewed the rituals as related to certain psychological...

Keywords

Genital Operation Childhood Transition Initiation Ritual Postindustrial Society Female Infanticide 
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.
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  • Judith K. Brown

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