A. Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa
B. Charles Piot
Piot first went to Togo in November 1982. It does not state precisely how many trips or how
many years he was in the field with the Kabre, but he did not stay throughout, he went back
and forth. Majority of his research appears to come from 1996 (53).
Piot traveled and stayed in the Kabre village. He observed and interviewed people (114).
At first, Piot’s research was influenced by Marxist thought, which affected his perceptions of
the Kabre. Later, he realized that he was applying a Eurocentric logic rather than a
completely open mind to the different cultural lifestyle (8-9).
III. Cultural Categories
Kabre believe, in a way, that infants are supernatural. They believe that when children are
born, they are not just beginning their life, but rather that they already have a whole
Kabre ancestors can be portrayed as supernatural too. The Kabre return to the north to
sacrifice to ancestors and spirits (105).
It is thought that parent’s must get to know their infant. They try to please and
understand the infant’s likes so that the child will decide to stay in this world.
Parents direct a lot of attention to infants to discover the past history and what
motives the child has in this world (77).
Children are considered androgynous. When a child is born, the Kabre do recognize the
sex of the child, but specific genders are not enforced when children are young. Some
foods are considered “male foods” while some are considered “female foods”. When
children are younger, they may eat either type, but as they get older, certain foods will
become unacceptable, socially, for them to consume. Girls, often eat dog meat, which is
the most male of foods; and often boys will fetch water for their mothers, which is a
female task (78). Kabre men work in the fields and cultivate the crops (78). Kabre
women work in the home, taking care of the children, cooking the meals and going to the
At birth, children are androgynous; they also have a past, their life is not just beginning.
It is said that infants are reincarnations of their grandparents. Older Kabre people are
considered bisexual and do not need to follow distinct gender roles. Children are not
forced into gender roles early in life because Kabre believe that each child, whether male
or female, is actually both genders at birth. The Kabre reason this since they see children
as reincarnations of their bisexual grandparents and as a creation by both a male and a
female (77,79). Thus, infants are born with a past and no gender, then as they become
young adults they must take on the roles of their designated genders. Once they are older,