This ethnographic study was conducted in rural Punjab, Pakistan and it explores infant care belief practices and associated fears in connection with the social value of the child in rural Punjabi socio-cultural context. The study is comprised of articles that provides theoretical, methodological, visual and emperical insight of the social value of the child. This study is based on the perspectives of the interdisciplinary social study of childhood and social construction of infant care belief practices in connection with socially valued child. This study explores and presents the social value of the child and its different interconnected facets, associated fears related to the social value of the child and its physical vulnerability. The study also explores the magico-religious aspects of the infant care beliefs practiced in rural Punjabi context to protect the child against harms and ‘harmful’ people. Data used in this research was obtained through six month fieldwork completed in three rounds using an ethnographic approach. Participant observation and in-depth unstructured interviews were used as primary data collection tools.

The main theme “the Interconnectedness between Infant Care Belief Practices, Fears and the Social Value of the Child” discusses the triangle that interconnects the social value of the child with the fears of losing a child and corresponding infant care belief practices. Under this theme discussion is extended to familial, religious and emotional value of the child. The fears are related to the evil effects, fertility issues, childlessness, and infant heath and survival. The infant care beliefs are about protecting mother and the child during pregnancy and after birth. Second theme “Magico-religious Belief Practices Related to Infant Care” discusses the idea of sympathetic magic that interprets the magico-religious paradigm of infant care belief practices including fears, protection and remedies. Based on the findings presented in the articles and cross-cutting themes, the study concludes that infant care belief practices situate different aspects of the cultural lives of the parents and children. The social value of the child that constitutes the status of the child in the society brings to light several infant care belief practices that are means to ensure children wellbeing. There is a complex and meaningful interconnection among religious, emotional and familial value of the child that ultimately encompass the socially value child. In this connection health and survival of the child is a primary concern of the parents and the community. The magico-religious aspect of these belief practices provides a cultural cognition to make sense and give meanings to these belief practices and their efficacy.

Following are the articles that provides methodological, theoretical, visual and emperical insight of the social value of the child in rural Punjab, Pakistan.


How does a child contribute to the well-being and social position of the family in the community? This broader question excavates the social meanings of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and infancy shifting the focus of economic and demographic theories on the value of the children to the social value of the child.This essay offers a synopsis of the social value of the child and the social construction of the value of the child in the global south. This brief article concludes that studies emphasizing the value of the children in the global south should investigate the intricate and relevant interconnections between the psychological, familial, and religious value of the child, all of which contribute to the social value of the child


This essay offers a synopsis of the social value of the child and the social construction of the value of the child in the global south. This brief article concludes that studies emphasizing the value of the children in the global south should investigate the intricate and relevant interconnections between the psychological, familial, and religious value of the child, all of which contribute to the social value of the child-


The ‘Child’ is a value-laden concept in rural Punjabi society with foremost pronatal values. The woman is primarily responsible for childbearing. Fertility is valued for the social value of the child that raises the status of the woman as woman-being and a mother. It is believed that the child removes the curse of childlessness and sets a woman from social demotion. Infertility or other related issues that cause congruent child mortality are serious and often perceived as Athra, an “evil sickness” to be cured by religious healing. This ethnographic study investigates perceptions of rural Punjabi women about the socially valued child and the fears attached to Athra. This study was conducted in a village in southern Punjab. The study explores the social value of the child, the status of the mother, the ‘unexplained’ nature of Athra, and its contagious effects.


Attending a doll's marriage ceremony was one of those encounters that refreshed my fieldwork memories while also providing insight into child socialization through play activities. An ethnographer's scientific task after fieldwork is to read, describe, and interpret the pictures. As a student and researcher in childhood studies, I was fascinated by the pictures' explicit and implicit details. Hence, I developed a picture reading technique that I used to read pictures as field notes. I named this technique 'SAFSI,' which stands for See, Ask, Find, See, and Interpret. Here, I elaborate on this process by using my participation in a doll's marriage as an example. -


Children's participation in economic activities has been documented as an inseparable part of the family support network in childhood studies. Children as an integral part of the parents' world contribute to enhanced social experiences, the continuity of the societal system, and the holistic well-being of the family. In the probaby global south children are political, economic, cultural, and social (PECS) resources that contribute to the parents' empowerment, prosperity, and status. This paper pursues the following research question: How does the social value of the child contributes a resource to enhance parents' social experiences and shape their social resilience?


The Punjabi postpartum tradition is called sawa mahina (‘five weeks’). This study investigates infant health care belief practices in rural Punjab and looks at the social significance of infant care beliefs practiced during sawa mahina. During six months of fieldwork, using participant observation and unstructured interviews as primary research methods, the study explored the prevalent postpartum tradition from a childcare perspective. A Punjabi child holds a social value regarding familial, religious, and emotional values. The five-week traditional postpartum period provides an insight into mother–child attachment, related child care belief practices, and the social construction of infancy. A child’s agency is recognised in the embodied mother–child relationship, and a child is seen in a sympathetic connection with the mother. Establishing an early foundation of ascribed identities is another important part of postpartum belief practices.


In the West, childhood is considered a right of children to be free from adult-world responsibilities. However, in a non-Western context, children with gradual progress in their biological age and physical development participate in the adult world according to their livelihood conditions and social context. They are perceived as competent to play that role and contribute to household and livelihood activities. In the rural context, children are seen as active social actors with agency and they are not separated from the adult world. Their participation is perceived as a process of socialization for becoming future adults. Hence, a rural child is an active and agentic „being‟ but in connection with its social context it is a „becoming‟ for its social upbringing and family well-being. After a review of some recent theoretical developments and case studies from various other parts of the world, this paper presents some findings from my own field research in Pakistan.


The belief in the evil eye is associated with feelings of envy that brings harm to children. In Punjabi Muslim culture the evil eye is a threat to a child’s health before and after birth. This article investigates the “evil eye” belief and protective measures adopted by Punjabis to refract it. The study was conducted in a Pakistani Punjabi village. Findings reveal a dominant magico-religious approach, along with gradually diminishing folk remedies.


Consulting religion and magic for healing is an important aspect of healing belief practices. Magical thinking provides space for culturally cognitive patterns to integrate belief practices. Tona, a layman’s approach to healing that describes magico-religious (fusion of magic and religion) and secular magic practices in rural Punjab, Pakistan, is an example of magico-religious and secular magical practice. The purpose of this study is to analyse tona as it is practiced to cure childhood diseases (sokra and sharwa) in Muslim Punjab, Pakistan. This is an ethnographic study I conducted using participant observation and unstructured interviews as the primary research methods. The study produced an in-depth analysis of tona as a healing belief practice in the light of Frazer’s principles of magical thinking and sympathetic magic. The study provides a deeper understanding of the magical thinking in magico-religious healing belief practices.


This paper aims to provide invaluable information about the fieldwork experience of the author as a native researcher in rural Punjab Pakistan. The author presents and reflects the fieldwork challenges faced and the strategies used to overcome the challenges. The primary objective of this paper is to discuss the methodological strategies to face the challenges of doing at-home ethnography. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in native context. Dealing with contextual complexity and sensitivity with the author’s native learning, the author used native knowledge as a useful resource to investigate insider’s perspective on infant care belief practices. This paper provides important insight of at-home ethnography and technical understanding to conduct fieldwork in native contexts. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork, this article contributes in contemporary debates on the challenges in doing at-home ethnography.


This paper, with an emphasis on motherhood as a psycho-social phenomena and an experience of social resilience for a woman, provides a reflective analysis of my qualitative investigations (2016, 2017a, 2017b, 2018a, 2018b, 2019, 2021) studying the value of the child and motherhood. This paper pursues the following research questions; how does the value of the child contribute to the social experience of a woman in pro-baby societies and how does the motherhood contribute as a resource for social resilience and holistic wellbeing of the woman?


Pregnancy is considered a special period in a woman’s life. There are myths about pregnancy that describe gender predictions, dietary beliefs, pregnancy signs, and risk of magic or witchcraft. Majority of these myths is in connection with the early childcare. In traditional societies midwives and experienced women practice and teach these myths to young mothers. Mother who feel special and vulnerable, at the same time feel secure in following these socially transmitted myths. Rural Punjab, a province of Pakistan has a culture rich with beliefs and myths. Myths about pregnancy are significant in rural culture and pregnancy care is seen as mother and childcare. This paper presents my research reflections that I did as a part of my Ph.D studies about early childcare beliefs and rituals practiced in rural Punjab, Pakistan.

@ ( Azher Hameed Qamar, Ph.D