Call for papers: Childhoods in South Asia: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives, Australian National University, Canberra, July 18-19, 2013

This workshop aims to provide an interdisciplinary platform for scholars studying diverse childhoods in South Asia. We also aim to enrich our understandings of contemporary childrens lives through historical perspectives. The conference will be held at the Australian National University in Canberra from 18th-19th of July, 2013.

We invite proposals from various scholarly disciplines, including anthropology, history, sociology, law and justice studies, development studies, cultural and visual studies, etc, as well as representatives of organizations working specifically with issues surrounding youth and childhood.

When we consider that children are marginalized by age in relation to structures of power  as well as, caste, class and gender  they in fact constitute multiple subaltern groups. The critical interrogation of the concept of childhood and experiences of children is timely and important. Although there is intense theoretical and development interest in children in South Asia, childrens perspectives remain largely silent in political, social and economic debate. Where children are the subject of adult speculation in development discourses, impacts on the lives of real children are often surprisingly underrepresented. This workshop will locate children in important historical and social changes in contemporary India while foregrounding childrens stories and agency. We aim for a convergence of innovative ideas around childhood, recognizing that this category is contested and raises important dilemmas for inter-disciplinary studies. This workshop will bring together previously disparate threads of different disciplinary approaches to children and childhood, allowing us within these two days to identify and develop convergences, conflicts, and aspects that may have been over-looked by one discipline, but explored in another. The conference aims to highlight the methodological implications of research into the perspectives and experiences of children.

Some of the dilemmas and themes to be explored include:

– childrens experiences, voices and stories
– universal versus multiple childhoods and the historical and
cultural specifities of conceptualizing childhood in South Asia
– how we conceive of childrens agency in relation to structures of
power
– a critical interrogation of child rights discourse, and the gap
between the rhetoric and reality of childrens participation
– diverse childhoods across class and caste, with a particular focus
upon marginalized children
– how to methodologically approach childrens perspectives and
experiences as adults and as scholars
– experiences and discourses of gendered girlhoods and boyhoods
– the significance of education in issues of social inequality,
constructions of Indian nationalism and modernity.

Topics that papers could consider include, but are not limited to:

– childhood and modernity, development and consumption amidst rapid
social and economic changes
– institutions of childhood, including schools, hostels, early infant
welfare centers, orphanages and youth organizations
– the anthropology of education, ideologies and styles of pedagogy,
and childrens experiences and agency within the classroom
– children and medicine (childrens understandings and experiences of
illness and healing; discourses surrounding children and health)
– childrens cultures (including play and friendship)
– South Asian childrens literature and childrens representation in
literature
– gender and sexuality
– children in families (including changing domesticities, family
relationships and structures of power, and sibling-caretaking)
– children and violence (domestic, communal and state)
– children and work.

Please submit 200-300 word abstracts for proposed papers by 10th January 2013 to either Dr. Zazie Bowen (Zazie.Bowen@anu.edu.au) or Jessica Hinchy (Jessica.Hinchy@anu.edu.au ).


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