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Presidential Symposium

The Cultural Nature of Early Relationships and Development

This symposium will explore some cultural aspects of infant and childhood development, the importance of cultural sensitivity. There are very diverse approaches within different communities around the world to child care practices such as where children sleep, approaches to discipline, prolonged separations and the role of fathers and extended family.

Is the Mother Essential for Attachment? Reflections on fungibility and plurality in the care of infants.

Nandita Chaudhary

Consultant & Collaborator on Child Development, Family Studies and Cultural Psychology
Doctoral dissertation supervisor, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi

This presentation will focus on the place of mothers in the lives of children with specific attention to the early years and cultural solutions for the care of infants amongst communities in the Global South. Every society has a shared protocol for bringing up children and people believe in the efficacy value and significance of the normative practices involved in the socialization of young children. There are shared models of care which are ecologically, culturally, and historically arranged and adapted depending on the set of circumstances. People’s orientation towards cultural practices around the significance of child-care tend are deep-rooted and enduring. Any “universalized” models of childhood, child-care and development is developed from a narrow ideology from a small selection of Western communities. Attachment theory and related ideas about mother-child relationships emerge from a bias towards nuclear families, dyadic relationships and face-to-face interactions and an over emphasis on parenting. There are many practices from the majority world involving multiple caregivers, sibling care, community supervision, multilingualism, joint households, and many other practices that are not adequately addressed (discussed) in the field of Developmental Psychology. There is lingering imperialism within the context of international aid, philanthrocapitailsm and volunteerism resulting in a single universalized model of childhood and family life.

Imagined relationship between an infant and mother developed within attachment theory is more exception than the norm, rather there is great value in multiple caregiving, sibling care and large households. Based on my work with Indian families, I promote the idea that motherhood is a fungible and plural phenomenon constituting activities that are better completed by a number of different people in their and their child’s best interest. I will discuss what justifiable interventions there are to support the young child's development in the context of the family and society and child-care approaches and practices. Furthermore, it is hard to avoid discussions about the pandemic that has had a major impact on lives and livelihoods around the world. As India slowly starts to breathe again after the second COVID wave, I will present some preliminary points regarding family relationships during the crisis.

Chair

Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Germany
Director of the Department of Child Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the Leipzig University Medical Center.

Kai von Klitzing, MD, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Germany, Director of the Department of Child Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the Leipzig University Medical Center; visiting professor at the Sapienza University in Rome, psychoanalyst for children, adolescents, and adults, Past- President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH), Editor of the Journal Kinderanalyse/Child Analysis, Associate-editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal. Scientific interests: Developmental psychopathology, infant psychiatry, children’s narratives, psychotherapy research, childhood maltreatment, and biological stress regulation. Books on attachment disorder, children of immigrant families, child psychotherapy. Prof von Klitzing is the immediate Past President of WAIMH.

Speakers

Consultant & Collaborator on Child Development, Family Studies and Cultural Psychology
Doctoral dissertation supervisor, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi

Nandita Chaudhary is a consultant and collaborator for projects, programs and publications on Child Development, Family Studies and Cultural Psychology with specific reference to Indian communities. She blogs at Masala Chai: Musings about little people https://masalachaimusings.com/. She has taught at Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi. She has been a Fulbright Scholar and Senior Fellow of the Indian Council for Social Science Research.

Discussants:

Immediate Past President of WAIMH

Kai von Klitzing, MD, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Germany, Director of the Department of Child Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the Leipzig University Medical Center; visiting professor at the Sapienza University in Rome, psychoanalyst for children, adolescents, and adults, Past- President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH), Editor of the Journal Kinderanalyse/Child Analysis, Associate-editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal. Scientific interests: Developmental psychopathology, infant psychiatry, children’s narratives, psychotherapy research, childhood maltreatment, and biological stress regulation. Books on attachment disorder, children of immigrant families, child psychotherapy. Prof von Klitzing is the immediate Past President of WAIMH.

Consultant Infant and Child Psychiatrist, Royal Children’s Hospital & Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Associate Professor Campbell Paul is a Consultant Infant and Child Psychiatrist at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, and Honorary Principal Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne. With colleagues at the University of Melbourne he has established and delivered postgraduate courses in Infant and Parent Mental Health since 1992. These courses developed out of a longstanding experience in paediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry and infant-parent psychotherapy. He has a special interest in understanding the inner world of the baby, particularly as it informs therapeutic work with infants and their parents. With colleagues, he has developed models of working in therapeutic groups with troubled parents and infants. Campbell is a member of the Australian Association of Psychoanalytic Group Psychotherapists, and he has worked with Australian First Nations young children and families. He is the current President of WAIMH.