Cross Cultural Psychology

In the anthropological ethnography “Dancing Skeletons”, Katherine Dettwyler offered a great representation of her experiences researching child health and infant feeding in Mali. As I read her accounts of activities, data collected, and reflections during the six month stay in 1989, I was introduced with a new way of looking at the world. Her vivid portrayal of the Malian people and culture reminded me of the many things all of us take for granted in modern society, and also of how I see the world at an individualistic level. With a busy schedule surrounding work and school it’s often easy to forget about issues and problems in the world that don’t directly pertain to me. However, because of Dettwyler’s stories that offered different perspectives of looking at the world, (for example her as an American anthropologist and from a standpoint of a Malian woman), I began to expand my view of the world and the issues that are important to it.
Katherine Dettwyler also had a transition of thought as she began her research and described Mali as “the reality beyond [her] book learning of anthropological theories and ethnographic methods. It was where [she] crossed the line from being a student to being an anthropologist, from the voyeurism of reading ethnographies to the reality of experiencing a completely different way of life, a completely different mode of thinking and new ways of interpreting the world” (17). Because she described the people, places, traditions, and overall conditions very vividly, as I was reading I felt as though I was looking at the world through a new perspective as well, and almost forgot I was reading and anthropological journal.
Much of what I learned from her experiences in Mali was shocking to read because they would rarely if ever pose issues in our society. For example, malaria, tapeworms, measles, polio, and upper respiratory infections to name a few is common in young Malian children and even their cause of death. When she explained...