Sociology of childhood does not go very back in history yet in recent times keeping in purview the sharp spike in instances of childhood abuse and trauma it is becoming a significant domain for of study. Rightly so, as for centuries childhood as a social construct had hardly received any cognition. It was in the twentieth century that Phillippe Aries’s path breaking book Centuries of Childhood, brought to fore the centuries of neglect to which children had been subjected to. Though the works of Locke and Rousseau did focus on bringing about a conceptual change in the way people perceived childhood but it was centuries before ‘childhood’ merited any serious scholarship.
The consciousness that a child differs from an adult and that childhood is not an unproblematic biological qualifier but a particular cultural phrasing, historically and politically contingent, started emerging in the twentieth century. As a consequence, for long children existed as a 'marginalized' and 'muted group'. The study of childhood in the social sciences was 'marked not only by an absence of interest in children …but also by their silence.' An ideological shift occurred when society became more child-centric, more conscious of providing children with a safe haven. Ironically, twentieth century was home to atrocities beyond belief and all of which subsumed, maimed lives of millions of children. Thousands of children die in battle, programs, perish away in refugee camps, disciplinary camps. Many still are suffering the stigma of race, gender, body shaming, social media exclusionary practices, trying to deal with a strange world. What makes children more vulnerable is as Charlotte Bronte phrased it
“Children can feel but they cannot analyze their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words.”
It is these violations of ‘Child/hood’ that have remained relatively unaddressed. Several constraints disrupt the discourses on violence done unto ‘child/hood’. More often than not, the task of relating to, interpreting and expressing a child's traumatic encounter, her experience of horror, falls upon an adult whose perception and interpretation of the world around is different to say the least. As Chris Jenks says, childhood is esoteric, “…the child is familiar to us and yet strange, he or she inhabits our world and yet seems to answer to another.”
Further, pain does not lend itself easily to language. As Veena Das points out that violence ensures that “language is struck dumb.” Elaine Scarry also speaks of how pain entails a ‘shattering of language’ and resists expression. Thus, while adults find language as inadequate/unsuitable means of expression of their pain, the possibility of a child (who is still in the process of assimilating the nuances of language) expressing her experience of pain through language/ aesthetic medium is even further removed from realization.
This volume invites scholarly articles on accounts -fictional, non fictional, memoirs, performance arts, graphic narratives and films which address the idea of violated ‘Child/hood’ are invited related to but not restricted to the following themes:
- Children and War
- Children in Civil wars (Bangladesh Liberation War, Malayan Emergency, Cambodian Rwandan Civil war, Sri Lankan Civil War, Yugoslav Wars)
- Children as soldiers
- Kashmir Conflict
- Jugendwerkhöfe: Kid’s Prisons in East Germany
- Berlin Wall : Stolen Children
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Foot Binding as a cultural practice which induced trauma for the girl child
- Social Media and Cyberbullying
- Childhood Gender non conformity
- Child Prostitution
- Sexual Assault and Child/hood
- Ethnic violence
- Children as weapons/victims in acts of terror
- War Babies (Often referred to as children of ‘bad memories’ and ‘scum babies’ these derogatory epithets pertain to children born to women whose bodies were claimed, conquered by assailants and used as vessels for reproduction. )
Please email abstracts not exceeding 500 words to both editors by December 15, 2019 at the following email id : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure that the proposals have the requisite information:-paper, title, name, designation, affiliation, email id.
Department of English
University of Delhi
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
The editors have just co edited a volume on Childhood and Trauma and which has been published by Routledge.
 Allison James and Alan Prout, ed., Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood : Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood. (London: Routledge, 2002) 2.
Assistant Professor, Department of English
Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi India