Histories of Childhood, Education, and Gender | Department of History

Histories of Childhood, Education, and Gender

The figure of the 'child' looms large in history. In policies, institutionalized spaces of childhood such as schools, and beyond. The child-subject exists in an uneasy relationship with various sites of adult authority in the colonial and post-colonial contexts. Who is the 'child' in historical imagination and discourses? In what ways do states and societies shape children's bodies, movements, and sexualities? How do young people shape the world around them? What are the particular meanings associated with girlhood and boyhood? How can we write a history of education? My research can broadly be considered as social history with a particular focus on themes pertaining to education, childhood, and gender studies.

The study of childhood is at once interdisciplinary and located at the interface of various themes- education, medicine, law, and family. In exploring the fashioning and refashioning of children and youth in a historical context, we understand the nature of power in societies along the axes of age/sex. Often, histories of children/youth are more about adults who held particular notions of childhood and the ways in which they were perpetuated in discursive sites. Locating myself in the wider field of social history, I explore the histories of education, missionaries, transnational pedagogical movements, textbooks, and children's relationship with nation-building.

These historical actors are not passive because of the lack of 'visible' presence in the archives. They exist in the way societies imagine themselves, Alongside government archives, I examine the lives of children defined by markers of social power and status in literature, photography, missionary archives, oral narratives, and popular culture. In particular, I am  interested in research on colonial and contemporary south India, comparative histories in the global south, and oral histories.