Children have represented the future continuance of societies, and have therefore been trained to replicate the material and intellectual conditions that were/are considered essential to both survival and sustenance. Children, whether belonging to literate or non-literate societies, have been/are/and will be considered to be vulnerable community members, in need of nurture, care, and training.It can be argued that “childhood” is a stage in life which is accessed by adults retrospectively, an experience that can be tapped through memory, which is then “externalized” conceptually and practically and deployed through multiple layers - through individual parents, through kin-groups, and social and institutional networks. Children are seen as extensions of kin-groups, but their individualities are not of great importance beyond a certain stage of infancy. This period of infancy, of extreme helplessness of the human baby, is when very rudimentary toilet –training and the like may happen, and even this is not mandatory. However, once the child is initiated into the adult world, and there is one or more socio-cultural program/s to inculcate in the child the habits of thinking, talking and behaving that will mark him/her as a member of that particular culture, there is ample room for disagreement among different cultures. The child then turns into the central hub of the networks of knowledge–production, and has to be “produced” as a member of the community. It is here that the “duration” of “childhood”, the end of the period when a child ceases to be one, the gendered child - are all areas that are subject to culture-specific definitions and processes.However, these essential features of all human societies vary enormously as different societies view “nurture”, “care” or “training” in diverse ways. Even the definition of “who” is a “child” can produce major differences of opinions or perceptions. Some of the difficult problems that arise as methodological, psychological or political questions, turn around the puzzle of children’s subjectivities. Further, the various cultural and intellectual perspectives on the nature of childhood need to be addressed as well, in order to engage with the questions: “what” is childhood, “who” is a child?
All cultures, in their necessary task of training children – draw upon their individual cultural black-boxes as it were: for these are the sites of received repositories of religious principles and rituals, of morals and ethics, of primordial fears and threats, an understanding of Evil and the Good, of a cultural projection of virtue and valour, of rightful conduct, of location, situatedness, of time, a certain world-view which was oriented to the Just, whatever these might be, the vocabulary of belonging and communication. In short, the imaginative nodes of communities. It is here that huge gaps are marked between cultures. In India, the period that yields the richest discernible sources that can be read for establishing pedagogical practices – is the colonial period and its records. These also engage with the “pre-colonial” methods of educating children to show the paucity of indigenous pedagogical systems. The colonial to a large extent flows into the post-colonial phase. This colonial legacy of received pedagogy is now being questioned at various levels.
This seminar titled Contested Sites: The Construction of Childhood invites papers on these themes which are pertinent for the understanding of this most vulnerable human stage:
Did the colonial period bring about a change in previously held ideas and practices around children? In the early nineteenth century, the “construction” of childhood and the “student” began to emerge as a colonial project. Schools in urban spacesbecame state-sponsored architectural features of city-life. Did the new colonized educated elite grasp this architectural innovation in cities as a feature of modernity?
A limited number of participants will be invited for the seminar. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper to following Email ID's:
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Conference. Those interested in participating should send title and a synopsis (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:-
Participants need to send in abstract and short CV by 10 July, 2015. Shortlisting of participants will be done by 17 July and the IIAS will send invitations to prospective speakers by 24 July, 2015. Submission of the final version of the paper (6000-10000 words) to be presented at the conference has to be sent to the organizers by 20 October, 2015:
It is the policy of the Institute to publish the proceedings of the seminars it organizes. Therefore, all invited participants will be expected to submit complete papers hitherto unpublished and original, with citations in place, along with a reference section, to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla by 20 October 2015. The Institute will be glad to extend its hospitality during the Seminar period and is willing to reimburse, if required, rail or air travel expenses from the place of current residence in India, or the port of arrival in India, and back.
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