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History books often weave tales of rising and falling empires, royal dynasties, and wars among powerful nations. Here, Maksudyan succeeds in making those who are farthest removed from power the lead actors in this history. Focusing on orphans and destitute youth of the late Ottoman Empire, the author gives voice to those children who have long been neglected. Their experiences and perspectives shed new light on many significant developments of the late Ottoman period, providing an alternative narrative that recognizes children as historical agents. Maksudyan takes the reader from the intimate world of infant foundlings to the larger international context of missionary orphanages, all while focusing on Ottoman modernization, urbanization, citizenship, and the maintenance of order and security. Drawing upon archival records, she explores the ways in which the treatment of orphans intersected with welfare, labor, and state building in the Empire. Throughout the book, Maksudyan does not lose sight of her lead actors, and the influence of the children is always present if we simply listen and notice carefully as Maksudyan so convincingly argues.
GirlsÆ Sexuality in a Caribbean Consumer Culture
Pleasures and Perils follows a group of young girls living on Nevis, an island society in the Eastern Caribbean. In this provocative ethnography, Debra Curtis examines their sexuality in gripping detail: why do Nevisian girls engage in sexual activity at such young ages? Where is the line between coercion and consent? How does a desire for wealth affect a girl's sexual practices?Curtis shows that girls are often caught between conflicting discourses of Christian teachings about chastity, public health cautions about safe sex, and media enticements about consumer delights. Sexuality's contradictions are exposed: power and powerless¡ness, self-determination and cultural control, violence and pleasure. Pleasures and Perils illuminates the methodological and ethical issues anthropologists face when they conduct research on sex, especially among girls. The sexually explicit narratives conveyed in this book challenge not only the reader's own thoughts on sexuality but also the broader limits and possibilities of ethnography.A volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner
Children's Literature and American Political Conservatism
Highlighting the works of William Bennett, Lynne Cheney, Bill O'Reilly, and others on the American political right, Michelle Ann Abate brings together such diverse fields as cultural studies, literary criticism, political science, childhood studies, brand marketing, and the cult of celebrity. Raising Your Kids Right dispels lingering societal attitudes that narratives for young readers are unworthy of serious political study by examining a variety of texts that offer information, ideology, and even instructions on how to raise kids right, not just figuratively but politically.
Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling
As children wrestle with culture through their games, recess itself has become a battleground for the control of children's time. Based on dozens of interviews and the observation of over a thousand children in a racially integrated, working-class public school, ecess Battles is a moving reflection of urban childhood at the turn of the millennium. The book debunks myths about recess violence and challenges the notion that schoolyard play is a waste of time. The author videotaped and recorded children of the Mill School in Philadelphia from 1991 to 2004 and asked them to offer comments as they watched themselves at play. These sessions in Recess Battles raise questions about adult power and the changing frames of class, race, ethnicity, and gender. The grown-ups' clear misunderstanding of the complexity of children's play is contrasted with the richness of the children's folk traditions.Recess Battles is an ethnographic study of lighthearted games, a celebratory presentation of children's folklore and its conflicts, and a philosophical text concerning the ironies of everyday childhood. Rooted in video micro-ethnography and the traditions of theorists such as Bourdieu, Willis, and Bateson, Recess Battles is written for a lay audience with extensive academic footnotes. International scholar Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith contributes a foreword, and the children themselves illustrate the text with black and white paintings.
Being a child in American society can be problematic. Twenty percent of American children live in poverty, parents are divorcing at high rates, and educational institutions are not always fulfilling their goals. Against this backdrop, children are often patronized or idealized by adults. Rarely do we look for the strengths within children that can serve as the foundation for growth and development. In Rethinking Childhood, twenty contributors, coming from the disciplines of anthropology, government, law, psychology, education, religion, philosophy, and sociology, provide a multidisciplinary view of childhood by listening and understanding the ways children shape their own futures. Topics include education, poverty, family life, divorce, neighborhood life, sports, the internet, and legal status. In all these areas, children have both voice and agency. They construct their own social networks and social reality, sort out their own values, and assess and cope with the perplexing world around them. The contributors present ideas that lead not only to new analyses but also to innovative policy applications.
Taken together, these essays develop a new paradigm for understanding childhood as children experience these years. This paradigm challenges readers to develop fresh ways of listening to children’s voices that enable both children and adults to cross the barriers of age, experience, and stereotyping that make communication difficult.
A volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner.
Rights and Wrongs of Children's Work, a groundbreaking book authored by an interdisciplinary team of experts, incorporates recent theoretical advances and experiences to explore the place of labor in children's lives and development. It condemns the exploitation and abuse of child workers and supports the right of all children to the best quality, free education that society can afford. At the same time, the authors recognize the value, and sometimes the necessity, of work in growing up, and the reality that a "workless" childhood, without responsibilities, is not good preparation for adult life in any environment.
Sex Education and Social Inequality
Curricula in U.S. public schools are often the focus of heated debate, and few subjects spark more controversy than sex education. While conservatives argue that sexual abstinence should be the only message, liberals counter that an approach that provides comprehensive instruction and helps young people avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy is necessary. Caught in the middle are the students and teachers whose everyday experiences of sex education are seldom as clear-cut as either side of the debate suggests. Risky Lessons brings readers inside three North Carolina middle schools to show how students and teachers support and subvert the official curriculum through their questions, choices, viewpoints, and reactions. Most important, the book highlights how sex education's formal and informal lessons reflect and reinforce gender, race, and class inequalities. Ultimately critical of both conservative and liberal approaches, Fields argues for curricula that promote social and sexual justice. Sex education's aim need not be limited to reducing the risk of adolescent pregnancies, disease, and sexual activity. Rather, its lessons should help young people to recognize and contend with sexual desires, power, and inequalities.
Children and Revolutionary Cultural Nationalism
During the first two decades following the Mexican Revolution, children in the country gained unprecedented consideration as viable cultural critics, social actors, and subjects of reform. Not only did they become central to the reform agenda of the revolutionary nationalist government; they were also the beneficiaries of the largest percentage of the national budget.
While most historical accounts of postrevolutionary Mexico omit discussion of how children themselves experienced and perceived the sudden onslaught of resources and attention, Elena Jackson Albarrán, in Seen and Heard in Mexico, places children’s voices at the center of her analysis. Albarrán draws on archived records of children’s experiences in the form of letters, stories, scripts, drawings, interviews, presentations, and homework assignments to explore how Mexican childhood, despite the hopeful visions of revolutionary ideologues, was not a uniform experience set against the monolithic backdrop of cultural nationalism, but rather was varied and uneven. Moving children from the aesthetic to the political realm, Albarrán situates them in their rightful place at the center of Mexico’s revolutionary narrative by examining the avenues through which children contributed to ideas about citizenship and nation.