The Afterlife Is Where We Come From: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa

Images from
The Afterlife Is Where We Come From
The Culture of Infancy in West Africa
by Alma Gottlieb


These are color versions of forty-nine black-and-white illustrations printed in The Afterlife Is Where We Come From. Click on the thumbnails below to open a larger version of the image. Each image will open a new window.

Photographs 1, 6, 8, 9, 37, and 56 are by Philip Graham; all other photographs are by Alma Gottlieb.

See also an excerpt from the book and videos to accompany the book.


1. Nathaniel joining in village life

3. Young children walking across the village to buy fried snacks

4. Nathaniel playing with baby Sassandra

5. Kouakou Bah with toddler daughter

6. Research team from summer 1993

7. Dieudonné observing three babies playing

8. Dieudonné carrying baby daughter, Hallelujah, on his back

9. Alma holding a sleeping baby on her lap

10. A bawling baby and a surprised Sassandra

11. Dieudonné's wife observing daughter Hallelujah in a turban

12. Meda picking up Nathaniel in a moment of friendship

13. Tahan in a tender moment with Sassandra

14. Toddler pounding food in a mortar

15. Young girl carrying yams on her head

16. Newborn wearing a necklace and knee band

17. Sunu wearing cowry shell and "Sunu" bracelets

19. Tahan bending down to crush medicinal leaves

20. Baby René with forehead painted

21. Baby wearing kola "paint" on fontanel

22. Sunu wearing abundant jewelry

23. Baby wearing a "dew" necklace

25. Baby Kouakou wearing jewelry

27. Baby boy wearing eyebrow pencil and eyeliner

28. Mauricey after a long bath routine

29. Boy chosen to baby-sit Sassandra in the fields

30. Older girl helping younger girl to wrap baby on her back

31. Ti, a single woman, baby-sitting

32. Ajua with a cranky baby

35. Older brother playing body game with his baby sister

37. Eight babies and toddlers who are playmates

38. Meda pulling baby brother, Sassandra, in a cardboard box

39. Baa giving baby grand-nephew Sassandra a bicycle ride

41. Baby sleeping in a vertical position

46. Mother doing laundry while her baby sleeps on her back

47. Mother pounding corn while her baby sleeps on her back

48. Sassandra sleeping on grandmother Amenan's back while she carries wood

49. Sassandra sitting next to sleeping mother, Tahan

50. Sassandra sleeping on Tahan's back in the courtyard in the evening

51. Toddler girl breast-feeding while standing up

52. Sassandra breast-feeding while his mother has her hair done

53. Baby Kouadio "dry nursing" from nonlactating aunt

54. Baby wearing teething necklace

55. Afwe Zi gesturing, "Nothing left"

56. Girls and women dancing "Crui"

57. Baby wearing a necklace with French coins

58. Malnourished child wearing a full cowry bracelet

59. Akissi holding ill son

60. Tupé holding second cousin baby Kouadio, who was born with a herniated testicle

61. Meeting of the Beng "youth" in Abidjan



Praise for the book:

"Welcome to the Beng world, where toddlers welcome strangers, and parents consult infants and diviners to better accommodate the desires and gifts that very young babies bring from their former lives in the afterworld. This delightful, insightful, and quite provocative book about very small people makes a very large contribution—an anthropology of infancy enables us to rethink nature and culture in new and important ways."—Rayna Rapp, New York University

"The Afterlife Is Where We Come From is some of the finest anthropological work I have ever seen. The book is not just an analysis of Beng babyhood but a complete analysis of life as a Beng. Alma Gottlieb is able to tie together the slippery strands of ritual, ideology, daily practice, and expression to come up with a comprehensible look at Beng life."—Meredith Small, Cornell University



Alma Gottlieb
The Afterlife Is Where We Come From: The Culture of Infancy in West Africa
©2004, 424 pages, 53 halftones, 2 maps, 2 line drawings, 6 figures
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 0-226-30502-3

For more about the book, including information on purchasing the book from bookstores or here online, please go to the webpage for The Afterlife Is Where We Come From.

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