Queen's University

Global politics of childhood

2010-03-19

Symbolic Children: The Global Politics of Childhood, will be offered for the first time ever by Professor Karen Dubinsky, Queen’s Department of History.
Children have assumed tremendous symbolic importance to various societies throughout history. This new course explores how and why the world looks to children to gauge, and sometimes solve, the world’s social problems. 
“Some people say that it was the image of Bush hugging the young daughter of a World Trade Centre victim that helped push him over the top in the last US election. What are the cultural assumptions about childhood at work here, and where did they come from?” says Dr. Dubinsky.
She indicates that Western countries have invented the category of ‘childhood’ as a distinct period in human life, characterized by qualities such as sexual innocence and freedom from labour. More recently, this model of childhood has been exported to the rest of the world.
Through examples of child labour, children and sexuality, child soldiers, and the politics of international adoption, Symbolic Children will examine debates in different countries and different eras, and illustrate how the politics of children are always related to other issues.
“We’re accustomed to the phenomenon of politicians ‘kissing babies’ to get elected. I want students to get inside that clich

 
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