Society, Cosmology, and Socialization of Emotions
The Tao are a group of about 3.500 people living on an island south east of Taiwan. They share close cultural affinities with the northernmost inhabitants of the Philippines.
My doctoral dissertation emerges from the interdisciplinary research project “Socialization and Ontogeny of Emotions in Cross-Cultural Perspective” which was located at the cluster “Languages of Emotion” at the FU Berlin and lead by Prof. Birgitt Röttger-Rössler from the FU Berlin and the developmental psychologist Manfred Holodynski from the University of Münster. Apart from the Tao, research was carried out among the Minangkabao in Indonesia and the Bara in Madagascar.
Central research questions were formulated from the joint theoretical perspective of our project. Among others these questions were:
- What are the culturally approved display rules of emotional expression in Tao society?
- What is the local meaning of emotion words?
- How do Tao children learn the emotional repertoire of their society?
- How do caretakers make use of emotionally arousing socialization practices?
- Which emotions play a leading role in the process of socialization?
- How do emotions develop in the course of ontogeny and how do they influence each other?
While being in the field (10/2010 – 08/2011) I learned that the answers to these questions may only be given if one considers the “animist framework” in which thinking and feeling takes place among the Tao. It was thus necessary to explore in great detail the Tao’s cultural models of person, emotion, and development as well as the conception of souls found among them. A further challenging aspect of my dissertation is the dynamic transformation process which started in the 1970s and persists until today.
The analysis of my data revealed that an initially induced anxious disposition is actively overcome by means of hardening exercises which start from toddlerhood onwards and are introduced by care-givers. Interactional patterns differ significantly within bilateral kin groups, peer groups, and between antagonistic descent groups. All three social dimensions have considerable influence on children’s emotional development. The socialization goal among the Tao is constant attentiveness and carefulness. People are always on the guard to avoid dangers from the social, natural, and supernatural realms which according to them cannot be clearly separated but are rather interlinked in multiple ways.
Concepts and methods from social & cultural anthropology and developmental psychology are combined within a mixed method approach.
10/2010 – 08/2011
01 – 02/2010
02/2007 – 02/2009
East Asian Collections at the Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden and the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig
- East Asia (especially China)
- Southeast Asia
- Childhood and Sozialization
- Concepts of Personhood
- Interdisciplinary Research
- Cross-Cultural Comparison
- Objekt Research and Material Culture