Developing Destinies:

A Mayan Midwife and Town


Barbara Rogoff

With Chona Pérez González, Chonita Chavajay Quiacaín,

and Josué Chavajay Quiacaín


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         Oxford University Press


Born with the destiny of becoming a Mayan sacred midwife, Chona Pérez has carried on centuries-old traditional Indigenous-American birth and healing practices over her 85 years. At the same time, Chona developed new approaches to the care of pregnancy, newborns, and mothers based on her own experience and ideas. In this way, Chona has contributed to both the cultural continuities and cultural changes of her town over the decades.  In Developing Destinies, Barbara Rogoff illuminates how individuals worldwide build on cultural heritage from prior generations and at the same time create new ways of living.

Developing Destinies is an engaging narrative of one remarkable person’s life and the life of her community that blends psychology, anthropology, and history to reveal the integral role that culture plays in human development. With extensive photographs and accounts of Mayan family life, medical practices, birth, child development, and learning, Rogoff adeptly shows that we can better understand the role of culture in our lives by examining how people participate in cultural practices.

“Very moving, and highly informative. Bravo!”
     —Jerome Bruner 

“Vividly rich.”
—T. Berry Brazelton

“Captivating and original ... finely wrought book.”
—Robert LeVine

“Brilliant.... A compelling narrative that illuminates key theoretical advances!”
—Kris D. Gutiérrez

“One of the most extraordinary books ever written on human development.... superb writing ... highly original ... Developing Destinies is a gem for both the scholar and the general reader.”
—Joseph J. Campos