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Childhood and violence: international and comparative perspectives – Seminar 1: Violence and the making of the subject

Childhood and violence: international and comparative perspectives

Date: 12 March 2010

The Economic and Social Research Council is funding a series of six seminars over two years exploring the impact of violence on children’s lives. The series is led by Birkbeck College in collaboration with the Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, The Open University and the University of St Andrews. It grapples with questions, such as: What is the relationship between violence and powerlessness? Do children experience more violence than adults and if they do is this because they are less powerful? How does violence enter into children’s lives and how can they protect themselves from violence?

Childhood is widely thought of as a space in which children are nurtured and loved by significant others and governed by institutions acting in the child’s best interests. However, the international and comparative focus of this series of seminars considers whether or not violence is exceptional in childhood.

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Seminar 1: Violence and the making of the subject

This seminar explores the role of violence in shaping the subjectivity of the young person. It focuses on how parenting and schooling practices use violence to socialise and enculturate children and on the capacity of the child to resist deployments of violence. Thinking of violence as an ordinary practice of parenting and schooling, where cultural and social norms establish the borders between discipline and abuse, highlights the social construction not only of childhood, but also of violence and pain itself. The seminar will also establish the policy relevance of the seminar series by beginning a dialogue between senior social workers working on child protection issues, educationalists and academics researching the anthropology and sociology of childhood.

Chair and discussant: Dr Heather Montgomery

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Professor Pamela Reynolds, On being responsible for any child: governance, subjectivity and violence

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Professor Alma Gottlieb, (University of Illinois), Urbana-Champaigne, First acts of violence: reflections on breastfeeding and enemas in West Africa

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Dr Neal Hazel, (University of Salford), Parents’ and young people’s views of physical punishment

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Seminar series website

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