PODCAST: Rethinking Childhood/Children in the 21st Century - 2 day conference held at Birkbeck College London with Sander Gilman, Jack Zipes, Michael Rosen, Barbara Bennett-Woodhouse and many others.
Rethinking Childhood/Children in the 21st Century - 2 day conference held at Birkbeck College London with Sander Gilman, Jack Zipes, Michael Rosen, Barbara Bennett-Woodhouse and many others.
We used to know what a child was. The social history of childhood was a product of the 20th century and its new focus on the social construction of cultural categories. The “child” became the ultimate insider's outsider. In psychology and law, notions of the “best interest” of the child came to define the actual social position of the child. The rise of middle class values that seemed to obsessively center on the child, in the West as well as in Asia, defined the “best interest” in ways that stressed material values. This focus lead to further obsessions about mass childhood abuse as well as the representations of the child as the object of trauma from the concentration camps to the Upper West Side. (See the spate of faked or forged holocaust autobiographies such as Binjamin Wilkomirski's Fragments or the extraordinarily popular novels of Jodi Picoult).
In retrospect the invention of childhood seems from the standpoint of the 21st century as too easy, too obvious, too reductive, too uncritical. The conference will bring together a wide range of scholars and practioners from history, law, literature, psychology, sociology to examine the older meanings of childhood and the new attempts to rethink this category in society, both west and east. One focus will be on public scholarship. We will examine the literal representations of childhood in the new wave of “museums of childhood” and their reinvention over the past decade.
This event has been recorded and is now available as a series of podcasts at:
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