Child of our time – Child Health in Europe and Asia in the early 20th century (1890-1940)
Organizer: Dr. Hideharu Umehara, Institute for the History of Medicine, University of Düsseldorf (Germany); Dr. Rie Hogetsu, Ochanomizu University (Tokyo/Japan)
Date, Venue: 29-31. October 2014, Düsseldorf
Deadline: 3. November 2013
In 1902 the Swedish author Ellen Key published her influential book „The Century of the Child“ (Barnets århundrade). She criticized the traditional school education and suggested a new concept of childhood in order to establish a different approach to education. Her book soon became a bestseller throughout Europe and coined the expression “The Century of the Child”, symbolizing the new form of education.
But the approach was not limited to school education. Since the late 19th century the social welfare in many European countries was beginning to focus its efforts primarily on infants, children and their families. Simultaneously, markets developed in European economies that specified on products and services for children and families. These developments were supported by social and human sciences which were established in this period and focused on child – i.e. pedagogy, psychology, medicine. At the same time, certain images of the ideal childhood and family were spread throughout the middle classes by various mediums – newspapers, magazines, films, radio programs, works of art etc. These images had an immense influence on whole development of infant and child welfare in Europe.
However, these developments were not limited to Europe but also spread beyond it. Since the late 19th century European countries extended their spheres of influence extremely. Each regions and countries were confronted with the Western model of society – including its concepts of childhood and family. In this sense Asia provides various examples of the confrontation and reaction of non-European regions and countries. For example, Japan modernized itself extremely since the late 19th century and became one of the Great Powers, while China could not completely reach the same end and many other regions in Asia stayed still under colonial rule of European countries, the USA and even Japan.
This historical situation is suitable to the aim of this workshop which explores the reactions of non-European countries and regions to Western models. How should a country take care of and bring up its children? Which systems should be constructed for the purpose? Should the Western system be directly imported or modified – or should one create an own system? What ideas or ideals formed the basis of this system?
The international workshop presents infant and child welfare in Europe and Asia around 1900 as a hybrid composition of social, political, economic, cultural and medial elements and to emphasize similarities and differences between these regions.
For the purpose this workshop focuses primarily on the health of infants and children and deal with it in following three sections.
1. Public health for child:
It was around 1900 when high infant mortality and care for infants (and mothers) became important matters. At the same time many European countries also introduced compulsory education. Many experts discussed the influences of school education and school as an institution on the health of children. Health care for infants and school children was discussed to in order to strengthen the soldiers and workers of the future. These discussions contributed to establishment of public health for infant and child. This section will discuss the role which medicine and experts played in the establishing process of public health for child. Thereby it tries to analyse socialization of scientific knowledge and scientization of society in the 20th century.
2. Health of infant and child as a market:
Public health for child was not only political and administrative topics, but also got a meaning in the market economy. In the infant health care infant nutrition became the focus of attention with breastfeeding campaigns on the one hand and, the provision of commercial baby food on the other. The latter was developed in close cooperation between medical doctors, pharmacists and the food industry. In the school hygiene, private companies got involved in the dental hygiene for school children to expand their products. Infant and school child appeared as one of health markets. Here not only the supply-side (companies and scientists) but also demand-side (child and their family as consumer) played a crucial role. This section will deal with interrelations between science (medicine) and market economy, while interaction between supply- and demand sides in the health market will be discussed from the point of view of health of infant and child.
3. Health of infant and child in culture and media:
In the process of interactions between medicine, politics and economics, health of infant and child was medialized to popularize scientific knowledge. The medialization was carried out by various ways and forms. How was health of infant and child represented in medial world? What aims had such representations? How different were representations form country to country? By discussing these questions this section will show health of child appeared as medial phenomena in the 20th century.
Papers per session: 4,
Length of paper: 30 minutes (20 min. presentation + 10 min. discussion),
Workshop language: English,
Venue: Düsseldorf University,
Date: 29-31. October 2014,
Deadline for abstracts: 31 October 2013.
Please send an abstract of ca. 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Dr. phil. Hideharu Umehara
Institut für Geschichte der Medizin
Universitätsstr. 1, D-40225 Düsseldorf
Institut für Geschichte der Medizin Düsseldorf
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