In a riveting narrative, psychological anthropologist Jean L. Briggs takes us through six months of dramatic interactions in the life of Chubby Maata, a three-year-old girl growing up in a Baffin Island hunting camp.
The book examines the issues that engaged the child -- belonging, possession, love -- and shows the process of her growing. Briggs questions the nature of "sharedness" in culture and assumptions about how culture is transmitted. She suggests that both cultural meaning and strong personal commitment to one's world can be (and perhaps must be) acquired not by straightforwardly learning attitudes, rules, and habits in a dependent mode but by experiencing oneself as an agent engaged in productive conflict in emotionally problematic situations. Briggs finds that dramatic play is an essential force in Inuit social life. It creates and supports values; engenders and manages attachments and conflicts; and teaches and maintains an alert, experimental, constantly testing approach to social relationships.
Co-published with Yale University Press.