All SHCY members receive the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Published three times a year, it features scholarly research and critical book reviews.

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Jul  28

CHC Episode 16: Childhood and Politics

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

The eighth biennial conference of the Society for the History of Children and Youth, held at the University of British Columbia, included approximately 240 delegates and over 60 panels. SHCY’s conferences have always been well-organized, sporting a diverse range of research papers, but I was especially impressed by the quality and volume of graduate student work (around 45 papers).

UBC Colleagues and SHCY conference conveners Mona Gleason, Tamara Myers, and Leslie Paris

UBC Colleagues and SHCY conference conveners Mona Gleason, Tamara Myers, and Leslie Paris

SHCY 2015 marked the conclusion of James Marten’s Presidency (2013-2015), and the inauguration of Mona Gleason’s term (2015-2017). At the business meeting, members raised two perennial questions for the organization: (a) How can we continue to advance graduate student participation in the field of childhood history? (b) How might we encourage paper and article submissions on periods before the 19th-century, and outside North America?

The Society has relied upon at least three mechanisms to address these persistent issues:

(1) Representation in decision-making: The Society’s executive board and the Journal’s editorial board are occupied by a diverse, international set of scholars. Our conference, prize, outreach, website, and other committees are purposefully diverse. At SHCY 2015 we voted to add a second graduate student representative to the Society’s executive.

(2) Raising and redistributing funds: Our ability to offer conference stipends to students (given their numbers) probably falls short of the existing needs. In addition to our primary dependence on membership dues, some members have made significant donations. It seems to me doing more would require an effort to raise funds outside of our own ranks.

(3) Supporting events internationally and recognizing non-English works: SHCY has held conferences in the U.S. (on both coasts and the Midwest), Canada, England, and Sweden. We have also sponsored conferences and other events in North America and Europe. The Society’s Fass-Sandin prizes celebrate excellence in non-English research within childhood history.

It seems to me there are limits to what any organization can do to attract temporally and regionally diverse research to its venues. As with previous years, volumes 7-8 of the Journal (2013-15), emphasized the post-WWII period – 19 of 37 articles. A fifth of the articles dealt with periods prior to the 20th-century, but none were from medieval or ancient times. Half of the articles focused on North America and about 16% on Western Europe. This said, the residential range of contributors has grown; the proportion of authors residing outside Canada and the U.S. tripled from 14% to 46% from 2011 to 2015. Of course, the contents of peer-reviewed journal’s cannot (should not) be manipulated simply to fit organizational goals. As Jim Marten pointed-out, the above figures reflect the distribution of quality submissions received – and this is dependent on the decisions and abilities of researchers. A forthcoming special issue on Ireland was made possible by particular scholars studying and organizing in that country. SHCY and JHCY can only communicate that a wide spectrum of historical work on childhood and youth is welcome.

Conference location is another practical way that the Society has made itself accessible to an international mixture of scholars. Next time, the meeting will move 5,000 kilometres from the west coast of North America to the east. The executive board accepted a proposal from Susan Miller of the Department of Childhood Studies to host SHCY 2017 at Rutgers University – Camden. The business meeting included an extended discussion of the advantages and challenges of holding the 2019 meeting in Australia or Europe. As with the contents of the Journal, this is not a simple issue. A given location will always be more favourable for some than others. Where we are able to go depends upon who is willing and able to propose hosting a conference like SHCY. Clearly, our effort to establish an international organization would be greatly advanced if we could continue to find venues outside of North America one out of three times.

As with previous SHCY business meetings members discussed additional initiatives that might help the Society continue to engage the vast temporal, theoretical, linguistic, and cultural diversity that one finds in the historical study of childhood. All of these ideas require volunteer labour and/or fund-raising success to materialize. We might increase our collaborations with other organizations and further utilize multi-media the way CHC has during the 2014-15.

We might establish work-groups within the Society (girlhood studies, literature, early-modern Europe etc.). In other academic organizations, work-groups are supposed to encourage the assembly of conference panels or proposals for special issues within journals in targeted areas. Often the larger organization sets aside space and time at the conferences for them. Some working-groups hold events outside their parent conferences at locations well suited to their members. As with several of the ideas mentioned above, work-groups are a means for welcoming scholars to shape the Society as they see fit. It is upon us to make the proposals and complete the necessary work.

Karen Dubinsky and Mona Gleason just prior to SHCY Keynote Lecture

Karen Dubinsky and Mona Gleason just prior to SHCY Keynote Lecture

The Keynote – The Politics of Childhood

Karen Dubinsky delivered the keynote address – “The Politics of Childhood Meets the Children of Politics: Cuban Literacy Teachers Revisit their Youth” – for SHCY 2017. Her presentation was a visual feast. You can view and listen to it by clicking here or pasting the following URL into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jki7jr9tfQU

Dubinsky outlined six categories of representation after years of examining political images of childhood around the world. In her talk she summarizes (an shows) them as:

1) Children in War and Peace
2) Revolution and National Liberation (or Mother, Child, and the Gun)
3) Elections and Political Parties
4) Social Welfare & Development
5) Children’s Issues
6) Children as Political Actors

See her related commentary on these themes in her 2012 article, “Children, Ideology and Iconography,” (JHCY vol. 5, no. 1). As her title suggests, the balance of Dubinsky’s talk focused on the sixth category – children as political actors. She closely documented the engagement of children and youth as teachers in the revolutionary Cuban literacy program during the early 1960s, and gave attention to the memories and reports of participants during a celebration of it fifty years later.
Dubinsky offered three questions for us to consider about the politics of childhood.

1) What are the historical circumstances that produce children with self-consciousness of their political selves (political duties, responsibilities, or desires)?

2) What would happen to the adult-child binary if we widened our imagination about children and political citizenship or political capabilities?

3) What would our image archive look like if the full spectrum of political actors were represented? (images of children as political actors are relatively rare)

*Concluding Note – this is the final episode of season 1 of “Childhood: History & Critique.” We are working to organize a second season with new hosts for the 2015-16 year. All the Best, Pat.

 

Books By Karen Dubinsky

Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry and Henry Yu (eds.) Within and Without the Nation: Transnational Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2015.)

Karen Dubinsky, Sean Mills, Scott Rutherford (eds.) Canada and The Third World: An Historical Introduction (in process)

Caridad Cumana, Karen Dubinsky and Xenia Reloba (eds.) My Havana: The Musical City of Carlos Varela (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014)

Karen Dubinsky, Caridad Cumana and Xenia Reloba (eds) Habáname: La Ciudad Musical de Carlos Varela (La Habana, Centro Pablo de la Torriente Brau, 2013)

Babies Without Borders: Adoption and Migration Across the Americas(University of Toronto Press and New York University Press, 2010)

Karen Dubinsky, Catherine Krull, Susan Lord, Sean Mills and Scott Rutherford (eds.) New World Coming: The Sixties and the Shaping of Global Consciousness (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2009)

The Second Greatest Disappointment: Honeymooning and Tourism at Niagara Falls (Toronto: Between the Lines and New Brunswick New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, May, 1999)

Improper Advances: Rape and Heterosexual Conflict in Ontario, 1880-1929 (University of Chicago Press, 1993) Book in progress: Children, Ideology, Iconography: How Babies Rule the World

Patrick J. Ryan

About Patrick J. Ryan

Patrick J. Ryan is Associate Professor at Kings University College at Western University – Canada with appointments in the Childhood and Social Institutions Program and the Department of History. He is a co-founder of H-Childhood (est. 1998) and author of Master-Servant Childhood: a history of the idea of childhood in Medieval English Culture (Palgrave, 2013).


Jul  27

Indigenous Children’s Rights

Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights
Call for Manuscripts, Special Issue: Indigenous Children’s Rights

A special issue of the Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights dedicated to exploring rights in the lives of Indigenous children is open for submissions. For this special issue we invite a range of contributions including scholarly essays, original research articles, comparative analyses, critical reviews, advocacy and policy articles as well as personal narratives, interviews, oral histories, and poetry. We are interested in presenting a wide range of perspectives relating to Indigenous children and rights.

For more information, download the full CFP (PDF)..

Jul  22

Feminism and the Politics of Childhood

Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or foes?
Workshop at UCL Institute of Education, London, UK, 16-17th November 2015

This workshop will bring together community- and university-based academics and activists to unpack perceived conflicts between children’s interests and women’s interests (which themselves are heterogeneous) and, more broadly, intersections and antagonisms between various forms of feminism and the politics of childhood.

The lives of women and children are deeply entangled and the way relations between them are conceptualized has implications for approaches to service provision, public education, and social movement building about critical issues including childcare, domestic work and global care chains, familial violence, and the division of labor. Children, to varying degrees, are positioned as primarily dependent and in need of care, and women take by far the greatest responsibility for this, whether in families, education, formal care settings, global care chains, and so on. Women and children have often been elided or linked ideologically. Both feminist and childhood scholars and activists have worked against this conflation, but, in so doing, have been criticized for portraying women and children’s interests as opposing and adversarial (Thorne, 1987). Feminist scholars have argued that prioritizing children’s rights has led to increases in women’s ascribed responsibilities for children’s wellbeing (Molyneux, 2006; Newberry, 2014) and that rising attention to “the child” in the policy arena has side-lined women’s citizenship demands (Dobrowolsky and Jenson, 2004). Childhood theorists have commented that feminism is an “adultist” enterprise, rendering children largely absent from the social world and sociological consideration except as objects of social reproduction (Mayall, 2002). Concerns have been raised that this antagonism reduces the complexity of adult-child relations – which include joy, love, reciprocal concern, and solidarity – solely to that of work and burden (Riley, 1987).

Until now, there has been limited attention to the ways these perceived antipathies might be addressed (but see Alanen, 1994; Burman, 2008; Oakley, 1994; Thorne, 1987). We propose to use this workshop as a means to initiate such a dialogue. We are inviting abstracts which address the following, or other relevant, themes:
• How do we ensure the well-being of children and women, particularly in contexts where their interests may (appear to) be in conflict?
• How might a conversation between feminism and the politics of childhood reconcile these tensions?
o Are women’s and children’s interests necessarily opposed or inevitably linked?
o What are the consequences of denaturalizing motherhood and childhood for women and children?
o How do we conceptualize women and children’s involvement in creating a gendered and generationed social order?
• What are the implications of theorizing women and children together?
o Does discussing women and children together reify their relationship?
o Where do men, the state, and society fit?
o To what extent does this reinforce compulsory heterosexuality?

To promote in-depth discussion and debate, workshop spaces will be limited to a small number of presenters and participants. Working papers of no more than 4000 words will be pre-circulated. At the workshop, each presenter will give a short synopsis which will be followed by discussion. We anticipate producing an edited volume from the workshop. All participants (including presenters) will be charged a nominal fee of £20.

To apply to present: Please send titles and abstracts of no more than 250 words to r.rosen@ioe.ac.uk by 15th August 2015 (Subject line: PRESENTER Feminism and Childhood). Full papers will be due 26th October 2015.

To apply to participate: If you wish to participate in the workshop as a non-presenter, please submit an expression of interest of no more than 250 words outlining relevant academic and/or community-based experience to r.rosen@ioe.ac.uk by 30th September 2015 (Subject line: PARTICIPANT Feminism and Childhood).

Hosted by the Childhood and Gender Stream (Social Science Research Unit) and Gender and Sexuality Studies, UCL.

Jul  20

Special Issue: Histories of Play

International Journal of Play
Call for papers for forthcoming Special Issue: Histories of Play

The universality of children’s play crosses times, places and cultures — and histories of play offer unique perspectives on children and their worlds, and the wider societies they inhabit. This special issue examines the histories of play across historical periods, exploring (but not limited) to such topics as:

• continuity and change in children’s play and playlore
• histories of the material and oral cultures of play
• the economies and consumption of games, toys and play “things”
• the spaces and environments of play in historical context
• documenting histories of play through visual, oral and other sources
• transnational and comparative histories of games and playlore
• remembering play: nostalgia, “kidults” and memorialization
• children’s voices in the history of play

The guest editors of the Histories of Play special issue (no. 3 in 2016, appearing in December) are Kate Darian-Smith (University of Melbourne) and Simon Sleight (King’s College London). Potential contributors are invited to send an abstract of 300 words to the editors by 1 November 2015 in the first instance.

Full papers of up to 7,000 words, which will go through a blind peer-review process prior to publication, need to be submitted by 1 April 2016. Suggestions for shorter pieces of up to 2,500 words on historical archives and cultural collections relating to the histories of play are also welcome.

Please check the International Journal of Play (Taylor and Francis Online) website for details on the journal and regarding presentation of material:
http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rijp20/current#.VZINnvmqpBc

Email contact for further information, enquiries and to submit abstracts:
Kate Darian-Smith: k.darian-smith@unimelb.edu.au
Simon Sleight: simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk

Jul  20

Horrible Histories?

Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts
16 and 17 June 2016, King’s College London

It is now over forty years since the bold declaration of psychohistorian Lloyd deMause that “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken.” Stirred by such claims, scholars have subsequently tested the “nightmare thesis” for both the pre-modern and modern eras, locating children’s agency in unexpected places and stressing the contingencies of context, gender, ethnicity, age, class, caste and sexuality. Narratives of historic and contemporary institutional abuse, however, together with insights concerning the legacies of forced child migration, children’s labours and other challenging aspects of childhood experience, suggest that sorrow rather than joy characterises much scholarship on children and childhood. Should this be so?

In another context, since 1993 the phenomenally successful Horrible Histories books, stage plays and television series have helped introduce countless thousands of children around the world to the past. As their titles indicate, Horrible Histories also examine difficult and sometimes grisly historical episodes. Progressive narratives are at work here too, reinforced by children’s museum exhibits emphasizing an emergence from the “dark ages” of childhood in the twentieth century.

“Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts” is the launch conference marking the inauguration of the new UK-based Children’s History Society. Offering a forum for historical reflections from established and upcoming historians of children, childhood and youth, we also anticipate that this will be a platform for school-age scholars to reflect on the ways they respond to the history. This two-day conference invites paper proposals on the following themes:

• Dealing with difficult history and heritage
• Children’s histories and the longue durée
• The “West and the rest” in children’s history
• Definitions of subjecthood and status
• Pain and resilience
• Archival approaches for retrieving children’s agency
• The things of childhood
• Children’s places and places for children
• Play as protest, recreation and the “work” of childhood
• Children’s histories in museums, online and in the media
• The histories of children’s places and places for children
• Future trajectories for researching children’s histories

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a two-page CV, to both simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk and M.C.H.Martin@greenwich.ac.uk by 1 December 2015. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in January. Panel submissions featuring three papers of 15-20 minutes apiece are also encouraged, particularly for panels showcasing in concert transnational and/or long chronological perspectives. Note that our definition of children is flexible, reflecting the multiple constructions through time of childhood as a social category.

The conference will be free to attend, courtesy of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies and the Department of History, both at King’s College London. Further details will follow regarding accommodation options, conference-related activities and Society administration. If you would like to become involved in the running of the Children’s History Society, please email simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk and M.C.H.Martin@gre.ac.uk to express your interest.

Dr Simon Sleight (King’s College London) and Dr Mary Clare Martin (University of Greenwich).

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