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French, T.M. (1943). Becoming a Kwoma: Teaching and Learning in a New Guinea Tribe: By John W. M. Whiting. With a Foreword by John Dollard. Published for the Institute of Human Relations by the Yale University Press, New Haven, 1941. 226 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:585-586.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:585-586

Becoming a Kwoma: Teaching and Learning in a New Guinea Tribe: By John W. M. Whiting. With a Foreword by John Dollard. Published for the Institute of Human Relations by the Yale University Press, New Haven, 1941. 226 pp.

Review by:
Thomas M. French

Becoming a Kwoma is an exceedingly interesting study of a New Guinea tribe with particular emphasis upon the process of transmission of cultural patterns from one generation to the next. The study was made under very difficult conditions, the author having been introduced to the tribe by the British Government agents under particularly threatening circumstances. The author seems nevertheless to have won the confidence of many of the tribe sufficiently to be able to give an exceedingly objective and penetrating report. There is a wealth of anecdotal material illustrating not only the customs and practices of this people but also the attitudes of many individuals toward them; and the author is particularly to be commended for the care which he has taken to distinguish between his direct observations and the inferences that he has drawn from them.

The book is written under the influence of Miller and Dollard's Social Learning and Imitation of which it is intended to be a practical application. The two theoretical chapters, however, suffer from being written too exclusively in terms of the theory of learning. Dollard in his foreword to Becoming a Kwoma criticizes 'freudian' psychology on the ground that 'there is no hypothesis in Freud's theory to explain learning'. 'This', he says, 'limits the usefulness of Freud's work for anthropologists'.

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