Childhood and Conflict in History: Lessons Learned

Childhood and Conflict in History: Lessons Learned

Heike I Schmidt & Jacqui Turner, Department of History, University of Reading
Henley Business School, University of Reading
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
05.06.2015 - 06.06.2015
Heike I Schmidt

Speakers include Colin Heywood on modern conceptions of childhood, Helen Parish on children and witchcraft in early modern Europe, Mara Oliva on Korean war orphans, and Dina Resk on ISIL cubs. For conference registration (deadline 31 May 2015):

The purpose of this conference is two-fold:
Academically, it will bring together historians across areas of specialisation regarding time period, geographic area, and approach to explore multiple, changing, and at times contradictory perceptions of childhood against the backdrop of conflict. Here, conflict may be understood as conventional warfare, genocide, civil war, religious strife, but also other violent episodes that put societies under stress such as witchcraft eradication movements and sectarian violence. This deeply historical conversation will be crosscut by discussants from other disciplines. Hence, the purpose of the conference is to gain new insights into the study of conflict through questioning the concepts child and childhood in comparative debate from a historical perspective.

More broadly, the conference recognizes that childhood and conflict is an emerging topic both in the media and popular culture as well as academic exploration. The latter almost inevitably takes the present with the prevalence of child soldiers in the so-called ‘new’ wars and child victims in insurgency and counter-insurgency campaigns and strife such as in Gaza, Syria, Honduras, and Nigeria as its starting point. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 determines that a child is younger than eighteen years of age and the Cape Town Principles from 1997 define a child soldier beyond the direct involvement in combat extending to support roles, including those of sex slaves. Children are most often seen as victims of their circumstances, helplessly exposed to the horrors of conflict created by adults. The purpose of the conference is to question the usefulness of modern scientific definitions that are understood to be and practised as universal as well as to interrogate critically current social science understandings of the issue.



10.00 am

10.45 am

11.00 to 1.00 pm
Concepts of Childhood
Chair: Dominique Santos (Goldsmiths)
Anne Lawrence-Mathers (University of Reading)
Definitions of Childhood in Medieval England: Legal, Medical and Spiritual Discourses and Their Intersections
Colin Heywood (University of Nottingham)
The Enlightenment, the Romantic Movement, and Conceptions of Childhood in the Modern World
Heike I. Schmidt (University of Reading)
Girl or Woman: Negotiating Childhood, Slavery, and Gender Normativity in German East Africa
Matt Worley (University of Reading)
‘While the World was Dying, Did You Wonder Why?’: Punk, Youth Culture and British (Fan)zines, 1976–84

1.00 to 2.00 pm

2.00 to 3.30 pm
Resilience – Permutations of Marginality
Chair: Ute Woelfel (Modern Languages, University of Reading)
Helen Parish (University of Reading)
‘Using Their Little Bones for Witchcraft’: Children as Victims, Accusers, and Witches in Early Modern Europe
Emily West (University of Reading)
The Lundy Children of Mississippi: Free Black Families and ‘Nominal Slavery’ at the Margins of the Slave Regime in the Pre-Civil War US South
Anne French (University of Gloucestershire)
Title tba

3.30 to 4.00 pm
Tea & Coffee

4.00 to 5.30 pm
Configurations of Victimhood & Resilience
Chair: Helle Strandgaard-Jensen (Media Studies, Univ. of Copenhagen)
Daniel Grey (University of Plymouth)
‘The woman...seemed to be in great distress’: Infanticide in England and Wales during the First World War
Jacqui Turner (University of Reading)
Rupture and Belonging in Their Own Voice: The Fisher Family and WWII Child Evacuation
Martin Parsons (University of Reading)
Nullus in Verba: Misconceptions of Operation Pied Piper

5.30 pm
Opening of Exhibition – Jacqui Turner and Mara Oliva

Informal conference dinner in town


10 am to 11.30 am
Victimhood – Appropriations of War Children
Chair: Karen Wells (Intern. Dev. & Childhood Studies, Birkbeck)
Sophie Heywood (University of Reading)
Child Protection, Censorship and the Cultural Cold War: The Case of Hachette and the Mass Publishing Industry for Children in 1950s-60s France
Mara Oliva (University of Reading)
From Refugee to Immigrant: The Cultural Transformation of the Korean Orphan Child
Dina Rezk (University of Warwick)
’Cubs of the Caliphate’: Children in ISIL’s Information War

11.30 am to 11.45
Tea & Coffee

11.45 am to 1 pm
Chair: Heike I. Schmidt
Helle Strandgaard-Jensen, Karen Wells, Ute Woelfel, , tbc
Closing Remarks


Heike Schmidt

History Department, University of Reading, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AA