The Cultural Psyche

The Selected Papers of Robert A. LeVine on Psychosocial Science

Edited by:
Dinesh Sharma, Steam Works Studio, Princeton, NJ; Fordham Institute for Research, Service and Teaching, NYC; Walden University, USA

Published 2021

As envisaged by Robert A. LeVine many years ago, the human development indicators have improved in many societies as income, healthcare and educational opportunities have been enlarged. Global transformations have led to significant decline in extreme poverty and an increase in working class and middle class families around the world in the emerging economies throughout Africa and Asia. As the technological and global influences continue to challenge the dominant narrative in academic psychology, conflated with WEIRD data assumptions, interdisciplinary research will continue to increase in value and scope, where LeVine’s classical approach in psychological anthropology, combined with psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, demography, language or area research and population studies, offers a path forward. The essays collected here in addition to honoring LeVine’s work, hold out the promise of a real convergence between psychology and anthropology or the development of a psychosocial science -- a confluence between positivism and relativism, empiricism and ethnography, and social sciences and human sciences. The scientific search for universal laws and the ever expanding search for cultural meanings in the diverse communities around the world must continue simultaneously and in conjunction with the transnational or global challenges we face today.

Hybridity fostered by interdisciplinary researchers has stood the test of time as the social sciences have gradually outgrown the monolithic ways of looking at the world. The project of a psychosocial science represented by the work of Robert A. LeVine at the intersection of psychology, anthropology, demography, child development and psychoanalysis maps out some of the challenges of a hybrid discipline. Hybridity impacts not only the humanities and social sciences, but physical sciences in genetics and genomics, or applied disciplines like biotechnology and life sciences. Thus, it is important that we not lose sight of LeVine’s spirit of interdisciplinary research. Advocates for universalism, the psychologists or behavioral scientists pursuing universal laws of human nature, must collaborate with the growing number of relativistic scientists – anthropologists, sociologists, or cultural studies experts -- searching for local meanings in small-scale village communities. There will be a confluence of social and human sciences, or what C.P. Snow, the English literary critic called the ‘two cultures’ of the scientific revolution – the sciences and humanities.

Praise for The Cultural Psyche

"This edited collection by Dinesh Sharma of his mentor Robert LeVine's papers is uniquely positioned between psychology, anthropology and human development. As one surveys its wide-ranging and fascinating papers, one not only comes to understand the principal lines of work carried out over a half century by a remarkable scholar. At the same time, one gains a sense of the history of these lines of work, by a person who has lived through it, reflected on it, and contributed significantly to its advances. This exceptionally valuable volume not only surveys child and human development in depth and across cultures; it also points out ways in which these lines of work ought to be pursued in the years to come." Howard E. Gardner Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Human Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

"This book offers an overview of the wide-ranging contributions of one of the giants of thinking about human development, parenting, and culture of the last 50 years. ...By bringing together a large body of Bob’s writings, some of them entirely new, this volume represents only one important dimension of LeVine’s enormous influence on the thinking of today’s scholars, but in addition it should be noted how much his scholarship has shaped the work and the thinking of his many students and collaborators in ways that will persist through several academic generations." Catherine E. Snow, Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Endorsements. Preface to the Cultural Psyche: Selected Papers of Robert A. LeVine on Psychosocial Science, Byron J. Good. Introduction: Culture and Psyche: The Future of a Hybrid Discipline, Dinesh Sharma. My Life in Psychological Anthropology and Future Research on its History, Robert A. LeVine. PART I: THE HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY. Culture and Personality Studies, 1918–1960: Myth and History, Robert A. LeVine. An Anthropology of Childhood: Re-Examining Margaret Mead’s Approach to Child Development, Robert A. LeVine. Plasticity and Variation: Cultural Influences on Parenting and Early Child Development Within and Across Populations, Robert A. LeVine. Properties of Culture: An Enthnographic View, Robert A. LeVine. PART II: CULTURE AND PSYCHE. Psychoanalysis and Other Cultures: An African Perspective, Robert A. LeVine. Freud and Anthropology: Why a Freudian Anthropology? Robert A. LeVine. Theme and Variations of Freudian Anthropology, Robert A. LeVine. Is the Oedipus Complex Universal: Explorations in Freudian Anthropology, Robert A. LeVine. Freud and the Social Sciences, Robert A. LeVine. Asian Explorers of Psyche and Culture: Sudhir Kakar and His Contemporaries, Robert A. LeVine. PART III: PERSONCENTERED STUDIES OF THE GUSII IN KENYA. Outsiders’ Judgments: An Ethnographic Approach to Group Differences in Personality, Robert A. LeVine. House Design and the Self in an African Culture, Robert A. LeVine and Sarah E. LeVine. Adulthood Among the Gusii of Kenya, Robert A. LeVine. Gusii Funerals, Old and New, Robert A. LeVine and Justus Ogembo. The Self in Culture, Robert A. LeVine. PART IV: COMPARATIVE STUDIES OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. A Social Science Perspective on Childhood Experience in India, Robert A. LeVine. Child Care in India: A Comparative Developmental View of Infant Social Environments, Dinesh Sharma and Robert A. LeVine. Women’s Schooling in Asia and Africa: New Questions And Answers, Robert A. LeVine. The Semantics and Semiotics of “Attachment”, Robert A. LeVine. PART V: CONCLUSION. Literacy, Mothering and Demographic Change: An Interview With Sarah E. LeVine and Robert A. LeVine, Dinesh Sharma. Commentary: The Cultural Psyche: The Selected Papers of Robert A. LeVine On Psychosocial Science, Richard A. Shweder. Commentary: The Cultural Psyche, or the Work of Culture in Psychology: The Selected Papers of Robert A. LeVine on the Development of a Psychosocial Science, Thomas S. Weisner. East Africa, Ethnology, and the LeVine Legacy, Parker Shipton. Comments Delivered at the Centennial of Harvard Graduate School of Education, March 6–7, 2020. Appendix: Bibliography of Robert A. LeVine.