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Risky Lessons Cover

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Risky Lessons

Sex Education and Social Inequality

Jessica Fields

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.

Sacrificing Childhood Cover

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Sacrificing Childhood

Children and the Soviet State in the Great Patriotic War

The story of how Soviet children experienced the horrors of the Great Patriotic War, both as victims and as heroes who helped make victory possible.

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Seen and Heard in Mexico

Children and Revolutionary Cultural Nationalism

Elena Albarran

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.


Slavery, Childhood, and Abolition in Jamaica, 1788?1838 Cover

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Slavery, Childhood, and Abolition in Jamaica, 1788?1838

Colleen A. Vasconcellos

This study examines childhood and slavery in Jamaica from the onset of improved conditions for the island’s slaves to the end of all forced or coerced labor throughout the British Caribbean. As Colleen A. Vasconcellos discusses the nature of child development in the plantation complex, she looks at how both colonial Jamaican society and the slave community conceived childhood—and how those ideas changed as the abolitionist movement gained power, the fortunes of planters rose and fell, and the nature of work on Jamaica’s estates evolved from slavery to apprenticeship to free labor.

Vasconcellos explores the experiences of enslaved children through the lenses of family, resistance, race, status, culture, education, and freedom. In the half-century covered by her study, Jamaican planters alternately saw enslaved children as burdens or investments. At the same time, the childhood experience was shaped by the ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse slave community. Vasconcellos adds detail and meaning to these tensions by looking, for instance, at enslaved children of color, legally termed mulattos, who had unique ties to both slave and planter families. In addition, she shows how traditions, beliefs, and practices within the slave community undermined planters’ efforts to ensure a compliant workforce by instilling Christian values in enslaved children. These are just a few of the ways that Vasconcellos reveals an overlooked childhood—one that was often defined by Jamaican planters but always contested and redefined by the slaves themselves.

Statism, Youth and Civic Imagination Cover

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Statism, Youth and Civic Imagination

A Critical Study of the National Youth Service Corps Programme in Nigeria

This study explores the service-citizenship nexus in Nigeria, using the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme as an empirical backdrop. It attempts to understand the relationship between civic service and citizenship on the one hand, and it examines the question as to whether youth service promotes a sense of citizenship and patriotism on the other. In the relevant studies on service and sociology, the assumption that service is antecedent to, and impacts positively on citizenship, is taken for granted. However, conclusions from this study call for an urgent rethinking of this wisdom. Using data from open-ended interviews, questionnaires and focus group discussions, the study traces the ways in which political dynamics in Nigeria have affected the implementation of the NYSC programme. The study articulates allegiance to national ideals as an essential foundation for creating and nurturing citizenship. Although it upholds the potential of national service as a tool for national integration, this research cautions against unalloyed faith in its presumed agency, arguing that the limitations imposed by the prevailing socio-political ecology should not be ignored.

Stolen Childhood, Second Edition Cover

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Stolen Childhood, Second Edition

Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

Wilma King

One of the most important books published on slave society, Stolen Childhood focuses on the millions of children and youth enslaved in 19th-century America. This enlarged and revised edition reflects the abundance of new scholarship on slavery that has emerged in the 15 years since the first edition. While the structure of the book remains the same, Wilma King has expanded its scope to include the international dimension with a new chapter on the transatlantic trade in African children, and the book's geographic boundaries now embrace slave-born children in the North. She includes data about children owned by Native Americans and African Americans, and presents new information about children's knowledge of and participation in the abolitionist movement and the interactions between enslaved and free children.

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Suffering Childhood in Early America

Violence, Race, and the Making of the Child Victim

Anna Mae Duane

Nothing tugs on American heartstrings more than an image of a suffering child. Anna Mae Duane goes back to the nation’s violent beginnings to examine how the ideal of childhood in early America was fundamental to forging concepts of ethnicity, race, and gender. Duane argues that children had long been used to symbolize subservience, but in the New World those old associations took on more meaning. Drawing on a wide range of early American writing, she explores how the figure of a suffering child accrued political weight as the work of infantilization connected the child to Native Americans, slaves, and women.

In the making of the young nation, the figure of the child emerged as a vital conceptual tool for coming to terms with the effects of cultural and colonial violence, and with time childhood became freighted with associations of vulnerability, suffering, and victimhood. As Duane looks at how ideas about the child and childhood were manipulated by the colonizers and the colonized alike, she reveals a powerful line of colonizing logic in which dependence and vulnerability are assigned great emotional weight. When early Americans sought to make sense of intercultural contact—and the conflict that often resulted—they used the figure of the child to help displace their own fear of lost control and shifting power.

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Super Girls, Gangstas, Freeters, and Xenomaniacs

Gender & Modernity in Global Youth Culture

by Susan Dewey and Karen Brison

A compelling look at the ways in which youth, gender and gender identities are being transformed around the globe.

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Their Time Has Come

Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood

Valerie Leiter

The lives of youth with disabilities have changed radically in the past fifty years. Youth who are coming of age right now are the first generation to receive educational services throughout childhood and adolescence. Disability policies have opened up opportunities to youth, and they have responded by getting higher levels of education than ever before. Yet many youth are being left behind, compared to their peers without disabilities. Youth with disabilities often still face major obstacles to independence.In Their Time Has Come, Valerie Leiter argues that there are crucial missing links between federal disability policies and the lives of young people. Youth and their parents struggle to gather information about the resources that disability policies have created, and youth are not typically prepared to use their disability rights effectively. Her argument is based on thorough examination of federal disability policy and interviews with young people with disabilities, their parents, and rehabilitation professionals. Attention is given to the diversity of expectations, the resources available to them, and the impact of federal policy and public and private attitudes on their transition to adulthood.

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Through the Day, through the Night

A Flemish Belgian Boyhood and World War II

Jan Vansina

One of twelve children in a close-knit, affluent Catholic Belgian family, Jan Vansina began life in a seemingly sheltered environment. But that cocoon was soon pierced by the escalating tensions and violence that gripped Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. In this book Vansina recalls his boyhood and youth in Antwerp, Bruges, and the Flemish countryside as the country was rocked by waves of economic depression, fascism, competing nationalisms, and the occupation of first Axis and then Allied forces.
            Within the vast literature on World War II, a much smaller body of work treats the everyday experiences of civilians, particularly in smaller countries drawn into the conflict. Recalling the war in Belgium from a child’s-eye perspective, Vansina describes pangs of hunger so great as to make him crave the bitter taste of cod-liver oil. He vividly remembers the shock of seeing severely wounded men on the grounds of a field hospital, the dangers of crossing fields and swimming in ponds strafed by planes, and his family’s interactions with occupying and escaping soldiers from both sides. After the war he recalls emerging numb from the cinema where he first saw the footage of the Nazi death camps, and he describes a new phase of unrest marked by looting, vigilante justice, and the country’s efforts at reunification.
            Vansina, a historian and anthropologist best known for his insights into oral tradition and social memory, draws on his own memories and those of his siblings to reconstruct daily life in Belgium during a tumultuous era.

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