"the anthropology of childhood is here to stay": interview with david lancy





anthropology of childhood, agency, parenting practices, education, indigenous peoples


This article discusses the consolidation of the field of Anthropology of Childhood through a dialogue with David Lancy, an emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, and a key figure in the institutionalization of the field in the United States. Drawing from an interview conducted with Lancy on the occasion of the launch of the 3rd edition of his book The Anthropology of Childhood, we introduce a Portuguese-speaking audience to his main contributions. We explore key themes in Childhood Studies, such as the utilization of the concept of agency, babies and the cultural variability of age categories, and Anthropology's contribution to research on childhood, parenting practices and education. For Lancy, the anthropology of childhood gives visibility to alternative understandings of the psychology of child development, childhood and learning processes, with the aim of raising new questions and offering new perspectives. Based on a broad survey of ethnographic research, the author affirms the significant amount of records made by anthropologists about the lives of children in different cultures, emphasizing the distinctions between, on the one hand, the childhoods of original and traditional peoples and, on the other, Western and urban childhoods, which he suggests grouping, following a denomination increasingly common in the United States, as "WEIRD" societies, an acronym for “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic Societies.” In this interview, Lancy argues that anthropological work on childhood among indigenous or traditional peoples, when well conducted, has the potential to foster greater respect and legitimacy for ways of thinking about childhood and education among these peoples.

Author Biographies

david lancy, utah state university

Professor do departamento de antropologia da utah state university, na cidade de logan, nos estados unidos.

chantal medaets, UNICAMP

professora do departamento de ciências sociais na educação, na faculdade de educação da universidade estadual de campinas, na cidade de campinas/sp, no brasil

gabriela tebet, Faculdade de Educação da UNICAMP

professora do departamento de ciências sociais na educação da faculdade de educação da universidade estadual de campinas, na cidade de campinas/sp, no brasil

flávia pires, Universidade Federal da Paraíba

professora do departamento de ciências sociais do centro de ciências humanas, letras e artes da universidade federal da paraíba, na cidade de joão pessoa- pb, no brasil


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How to Cite

lancy, david, medaets, chantal, tebet, gabriela, & pires, flávia. (2024). "the anthropology of childhood is here to stay": interview with david lancy. Childhood & Philosophy, 20, 01–20. https://doi.org/10.12957/childphilo.2024.82578




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