The Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis (RCHA) will host a conference on April 7-9, 2005. Our focus will be upon children: as victims, participants, and survivors of war, children in war torn states and regions of the world as well as children of aggressor nations who may escape the immediate physical terror of war but suffer other traumas. We invite scholars from a variety of disciplines to contribute to a global, historical and cross-cultural understanding of war and children.
Robert J. Lifton’s classic study of Japanese child victims of the atomic bomb, along with recent Holocaust studies and memoirs, serve as powerful treatments of children as victims and survivors. We wish to amplify and enrich the story, carrying it forward in time and backwards into the past, offering understandings of children as participants and actors in the human history of violence and inviting policy-makers to understand more fully the consequences of war upon children. Do modern warfare, advanced weaponry and technology, and the coming to existence of the modern state, and “stateless terrorism” create a unique situation for dependent, developing humans as victims of and participants in war? How have religious, ethical, and political beliefs justified the sacrifices of youth? How can we conceptualize the impact of war upon boys and girls?
For the past 13 years, RCHA conferences have followed a highly successful format that will also be used for this meeting as well. The conference begins Thursday evening and runs through Saturday afternoon. Advance circulation of papers and no concurrent sessions allow maximum discussion time and full participation in all conference proceedings. The twenty-or-so fellows assembled for the academic year at the RCHA, including visiting, associate, faculty, and graduate fellows will join the invited colloquium participants. We shall seek publication of conference papers, as the RCHA has done successfully in the past. The conference will be held on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University.
This conference is part of a larger project entitled “Gendered Passages in Historical Perspective: The Gendering of Children” that runs throughout the academic year 2004-2005 at the RCHA. Under the direction of Professors Rudolph M. Bell and Virginia Yans-McLaughlin of the Rutgers-New Brunswick History Department, this project focuses on the evolution of cultural understandings of gender and children’s management of these humanly constructed understandings—with the goal of developing educational tools to encourage future policymakers to make the present and future lives of boy and girl children productive, safe, and equally satisfying.
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