Upcoming talk at PERLA, University of Tampere

An open research seminar on history of childhood emotions, September 30th 2016

An open research seminar on history of childhood emotions

CHILDHOOD EMOTIONS AND THE MAKING OF CITIZENS: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON INFORMAL EDUCATION

Time: September 30th 2016, 12.15–13.45

Place: University of Tampere, Linna building 5th floor, room 5026, Kalevantie 5, Tampere

PERLA organizes an international research seminar on history of childhood emotions. Dr. Stephanie Olsen, visiting professor at the degree programme of history, will give a presentation on history of childhood emotions. After the presentation the participants have the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Olsen.

Dr. Olsen is a professor from the McGill University in Canada. She received her PhD in history science from the McGill University, and has done a large body of research concerning history of childhood and youth, especially history of childhood and youth emotions. She has also worked many years at Max Planck Institute’s Centre for the History of Emotions in Germany.

You are warmly welcome!

For more information about the lecture, please contact Mervi Kaarninen (mervi.kaarninen@uta.fi)

 

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Growing Up Ashamed of My Indigenous Identity

By Jesse Thistle

Many Indigenous children in Canada in the 1960s through the ’80s were given up or taken by child services and raised outside of their communities in “white” homes. The trend, often called the sixties scoop, hasn’t ended and still continues today under the guise of Children Aid Services (CAS). Some sixties scoop children ended up in foster homes, others with “white” families, and some, like me and my brothers, ended up with grandparents or extended family. Because of the dislocation from parents and community, many Indigenous kids became “whitewashed,” losing their Indigenous identities despite their outward brown skin. Such is the power of colonialism. There were, however, some kids who held on to their Indigenous culture and identity despite relocation into new families. The case of my two brothers and me, three Saskatchewan Metis-Cree raised in Toronto by our Scottish-Metis grandparents, illustrates both groups—those who lost their identity and those who kept it; me the former, and my brothers the latter.

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Jesse and his brothers

A Brief Introductory History of My People: Lii Michif

My name is Jesse Thistle and I am a Metis-Cree from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. My Metis and Cree ancestors were the bison hunters of the Great Plains. We were the middlemen of the North American fur trade for two hundred and fifty years, trading with our maternal First Nations relatives on the rivers and plains, and our European fathers who manned the fur trade forts. Metis people are a mixture of First Nations and Europeans, who after centuries of intermixing, formed a new people, lii Michif (the Metis).

My Metis-Cree ancestors fought against Canada alongside Louis Riel in the Red Resistance of 1869 and the Battle of Batoche of 1885. In fact, cousin Louis is related to my great-grandmother Marianne Morrissette, nee Ledoux—she was his cook at Batoche. The 1869 and 1885 conflicts happened largely because Canada expanded into Rupertsland after purchasing it from London and the Hudson’s Bay Company without any consultation from Metis and First Nations peoples who called Rupertsland home. Upset that our lands were sold without our permission, we rose up and won the Red River Resistance and secured the province of Manitoba as our homeland in 1870. By 1873, however, through a succession of broken promises, coupled with massive waves of European and Ontarian settlers, forty thousand acres around Winnipeg had been taken by the new settlers, a displacement that pushed many landless Metis into Saskatchewan. At Batoche, Saskatchewan, in 1885, we Metis would again rise to take up arms to defend our lands against the ever-expanding nation-state of Canada. Alas, we were not successful at Batoche and suffered a crushing defeat on May 9-12, 1885.

The Battle of Batoche scattered our kin groups, collapsed our economy, took away our sovereignty and land, and traumatized my people writ large. After the battle, Metis ran from Canadian authorities for many decades; some hid in nearby reserves, others changed their names and denied their heritage, many fled to the US, and some came to live on public strips of land along road sides called Road Allowances. For a century after the battle we lived like this—always on the move, always careful of the RCMP and Canada, and always dealing with our unaddressed post-traumatic stress disorder, which, over time, was passed down through the generations.

My family lived in the Road Allowance of Park Valley, Saskatchewan, where we were eventually forgotten by provincial and federal Canadian governments. By the time I was born in 1976 my Road Allowance community of Erin Ferry, a satellite community of Park Valley, had more or less dissolved, destroyed by a century of unaddressed trauma. The end of Maria Campbell’s book Half-Breed describes the eroding effects alcoholism and neglect had on our people. By the late 1970s, a whole generation of my Metis-Cree cousins and kin, along with my brothers and me, were let go into adoption. Our family crushed under the weight of unresolved historic trauma.

The below story speaks to the loss of identity that happened with me and my brothers when we were in our teens in Toronto. The line of trauma that stretched back to Batoche expressed itself in my teen years as denial of my culture and heritage.    

***

I was ashamed of my older brother. I remember that much. High school wasn’t a time when I was very empathetic or understanding of anyone but myself. In fact I was downright mean and I didn’t understand my brother’s quest to recapture his Indigenous identity so I was ashamed of him and made fun of him.

“There he goes with his feather and that shit he keeps burning and waving everywhere [smudging],” I said to my buddy Leeroy, trying to act cool.

“What is it?” Leeroy inquired.

“I don’t know some Indian herbs or something.”

I flicked my cigarette and watched it ricochet off the ground, sending burning ash into the air. What was it? I pondered in my head.

“Who the hell knows, as long as Tonto ain’t waving it at me,” I said aloud like the ignorant teenager I was.

“He’s gone Indian.” I rolled my eyes and popped my jean jacket collar.

Leeroy laughed and agreed that my brother looked ridiculous. I laughed too, but in some way felt injured and deeply ashamed of my heritage.

smudge

***

I was surprised to see my brother come out of the school side-door. It was class time and I was skipping class like I always did and he was such a goody-two-shoes. I expected him to be in class like he always was.

“Hey, bro!” I yelled from the smoking pit. “Get to class, you brown-noser!”

My stoner friends and I giggled as I took another pull of the hash joint. When my toke was finished, I looked up for a response but received nothing.

“He looks like he’s crying,” Sarah said. “Why is he crying?”

“What? No, Jesse’s bro don’t cry. He’s a beast.”

Leeroy was right, my brother was a beast. He was 240 lbs in 11th grade and had shattered the long standing bench-press and leg-press records at Central Peel High. He was also one of the biggest and fastest rugby players in Peel District and struck fear in the hearts of many of those he played against. He could also fight like the devil himself; as tough as nails and always ready to defend himself.

“No, seriously, Jesse. He’s crying.”

Just as Sarah finished saying that I saw Mrs. McNab, the economics teacher, burst out the side doors. She ran up and tried to grab my brother from behind but he collapsed on the ground before she could reach him.

I had never seen my brother so vulnerable before. He just fell to the ground and wept. I dropped my empty book bag and ran to his side.

“What’s wrong, yo? What’s wrong?” I asked with concern.

When he looked up I saw his eyes were different than they normally were. They were wide and red; it looked like he had been crying deeply for years.

“I… I …” he mustered, unable to catch his breath. “You… you…”

“Back up,” Mrs. McNab said with the force of a mother bear. “Something happened in class and he needs air.”

I was confused. Had someone died? Had someone said something hurtful to him? Had someone done this to him? What?

“I saw, I saw you,” he said. “I saw you in the future, homeless. It was horrible. I had a vision and…n-n-no….”

A scrum of teachers came out of nowhere and pushed me aside before he could finish his thought. They took him and sat him down and kept anyone from seeing or communicating with him until the ambulance came — including me. Still stoned, I soon lost interest in my brother and turned my back, then drifted to my friends in the smoking pit.

“What the hell happened?” Leeroy inquired.

“I don’t know. He said something about a vision or something, like he’s a ‘mystic Indian’ or something. I don’t know.”

Leeroy and the gang snickered and talked about the feathers we saw my brother with earlier that week. They also commented how I was ‘alright’ ’cause I wasn’t into that kind of ‘Indian shit’ and that I wasn’t like him. I laughed along with them but in the back of my heart I hurt for my brother.

***

My middle brother was a creative guy back in high school, he still is. He drew dragons and elves and played Dungeons and Dragons with his nerd friends. I made fun of him and them every chance I could and always teased him in public about his weight. Sometimes, though, in secret, I played D and D with him and his friends and I always had a blast! They were nice and quick to forgive. But when my cool friends came around, I was a real dick to them and my brother.

One day he decided to make a bone choke-chain out of chicken bones and wooden coloured beads. My brother, as long as I can remember, had always been proud of being ‘Native’ and he always found creative ways to express it.

“Look,” he said with a big smile. “It’s beautiful. I just love it.”

The bone necklace was kind of cool, it hung around his neck and made him look strong and proud. The two things I always wanted, but couldn’t find the inner strength to be.

“It’s last night’s dinner,” I retorted in a deadpan way, trying to hurt him.

“Why do you always do that, Jesse? Why do you shit on our heritage like that?”

My brother’s question was sincere and honest. Just weeks before I had stolen his tobacco and smoked it, not caring what ceremonial “Indian” uses he had for it. All I cared about was that it was tobacco and that I needed to get rid of my nicotine craving. Heritage be damned, I just wanted a smoke.

“Because it looks awful,” I said. “And why do you and Josh play Indians? Fuck, we’re from Toronto and never practiced that stuff. It’s embarrassing.”

I could see I injured him. He quietly asked me to leave his bedroom and shut the door as I left.

The next day he wore his choker to school, proud of who he was. I admired him for his strength and was jealous he could be himself.

choker

***

“Dude,” Aaron the neighbor across the street said to me as I returned from a night out drinking. “Your brother freaked out last night.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “How?”

“Well,” Aaron said, “he came running out of the house yelling there was a giant crow chasing him. He looked hysterical and the ambulance had to be called. It was crazy. I hope he is OK.”

I could see by the look on Aaron’s face that he was very concerned for my brother, that something really strange had happened. I rushed into the house to see my brother and get the full story.

When I asked him what had happened he explained that a big monstrous sized crow flew into the house through his bedroom window and was flapping around and that he got scared and fled the house. He said it was like a vision and that the crow was communicating with him. Since youth my middle brother had always claimed to have ‘mystic’ powers and I just chalked up his ‘vision’ to another unsubstantiated ‘mystical Indian’ claim, another magical figment of his imagination.

Then I dismissed him as crazy.

I could see his eyes become sad as I discounted something that was obviously so traumatic for him. I had turned my back on my brothers yet again

Crow.jpg

***

A lot of people now see me as someone who has really connected to my Indigenous identity. Which is true, but it wasn’t always the case. Years before I found my courage and way to university, while I was growing up, I denied my heritage and discounted its importance. I know now that my denial was a product of us boys being raised in Toronto by our paternal grandparents who never celebrated our Indigeneity. My brothers, however, did not forget their roots. They always knew who they were, where they had come from, and had always tried to reach me and make me see the value in our Indigenous heritage. Above are four incidences that have stuck with me. They are incidences that have haunted me for well over twenty years where my brothers had the courage to be themselves while I was in denial. I recently got my older brother his Metis citizenship and I am doing my other brother’s now, so it might seem today like I am helping them recover their Indigenous heritage and history. But, just to set the record straight, that is not the case. The reality is reversed. It was they who gave me my heritage long, long ago. I just had to value it like they have always done, as they were never ashamed.

“Tears Are a Sign of Sensitivity:” Emotions and the Moral Education of Children in Mexico City and Mérida

By Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

Educators in France set the example for other pedagogues across the Atlantic. In Republican France, pedagogues promoted the emotional value of childhood, but also advised parents to decrease physical coercion and pay more attention to mental development. They delineated distinctions between the duties of the child and those of the adult. A young generation of educators in the 1870s repudiated the violence of the Jacobins; they agreed that moral education would unify the nation and create a secular France.[1] Pedagogues such as Émile Littré and Auguste Comte, along with Jules Ferry, Ferdinand Buisson, and Félix Pécaut drew on the burgeoning influence of moral education and participated in debates over teaching secular morality in schools. As Marcelo Caruso and Susan Miller have shown, education in the formation of emotions of youth played a fundamental role in formal education, but also in youth organizations.[2]

French educators influenced their Mexican counterparts, who adopted similar the tenets of moral education. Ildefonso Estrada Zenea and Rodolfo Menéndez, educators in Yucatán, sought to implement order and peace using Auguste Comte’s principles of moral education. Estrada Zenea did not seek to sever religion from education; rather, he drew upon religious metaphors and storytelling to develop the intelligence of children using riddles, stories, and anecdotes.[3] Estrada Zenea and Menéndez cultivated positivist notions of child rearing that were first published in Mérida and became pioneers of the children’s press in Latin America. Newspapers and child rearing manuals in Yucatán, such as El Periquito, El Diario de la Infancia, El Mensajero de la Infancia, and La Escuela Primaria prescribed new notions of childrearing, such as the application of strict discipline and the moderation of emotions, the main tenets of the philosophy of moral education. Educators in Yucatán emphasized the social values of honesty, manual work, and the ability to keep one’s word, as well as the external display of honor and public acknowledgement of these virtues. The riddles and stories published in every Sunday section of El Periquito revealed elite disdain for gossip and hearsay. El Periquito, published in Mérida between April and September 1869, was the first newspaper for children in Mexico.[4]

The Sunday section focused on a different letter of the alphabet each week and presented a word that began with that letter and related it to a moral those young readers or their parents were expected to learn. A riddle published on April 11, 1869 reflects how riddles could teach children about the need to practice caution and to refrain from spreading rumors. In an ironic metaphor, the author warned of the danger and power of the spoken word by comparing the sharpness of the tongue with the blade of a sword: “When honor fades away, it twists like a sword; it destroys.”[5]

Carlos image

As shown in the above figure, in its July 11, 1869 edition, El Periquito noted that tears were a sign of sensitivity.[6] Other newspapers highlighted individual reputation and its defense from the threats of gossip and hearsay, which had to be recognized and acknowledged at an early age. The tale of the travails of a humble carpenter underscored how passion for hard work, and the display of a person’s honor, could bring public recognition and economic success. El Mensajero de la Infancia detailed the story of José Pereira, a carpenter in Mérida, who struggled to sell a dresser. One day, an old woman took interest in the furniture. The next day, José found money in the dresser and started a campaign to return the money to the woman. The carpenter contacted the editorial team of El Siglo XIX, a newspaper established by Francisco Zarco, to publish a story about the lost money in the gacetilla section of the daily newspaper. The carpenter waited several days until journalists had informed him that the unnamed woman had claimed her money. The story emphasized the honor of the carpenter who had refused to keep the woman’s money, his honesty and good deeds. Moreover, the newspaper’s acknowledgment of the carpenter’s honor suggests the importance of maintaining an honorable individual reputation. This recognition by the newspaper not only resulted in public esteem, but also in his economic success. Every reader was aware of his good actions, and all wanted to buy furniture made by his “respectable hands.” His honesty brought recognition and the opening of workshops in the city.[7]

Literary scholars have noted that during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, England produced literary sentimentalizations of childhood. A similar cultural phenomenon took place in Mexico during the late nineteenth century. Teachers and youth advocates incorporated the sentiment of honor as a source of virtue in their projects of child socialization during the 1870s; however, these romantic representations changed as criminologists, doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers, and reporters highlighted the violent emotions of children beginning in the late 1880s.

[1] Philip G. Nord, The Republican Moment: Struggles for Democracy in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995)

[2] On the emotional effects of education in Colombia and the United States, see Marcelo Caruso, “Emotional Regimes and School Policy in Colombia, 1800-1835” and Susan A. Miller, “Feeling Like a Citizen: The American Legion’s Boys State Programme and the Promise of Americanism” in Stephanie Olsen ed., Childhood, Youth, and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

[3] El Periquito, July 25, 1869, no. 17, 68.

[4] Newspapers such El Ángel de la Guarda, la Edad Feliz, and La Enseñanza: Revista Americana de Instrucción and Recreo Dedicada a la Juventud were published in Mexico City in 1870. For an overview of republican newspapers, see Beatriz Alcubierre Moya, Ciudadanos del futuro: Una historia de las publicaciones para niños en el siglo XIX mexicano (Mexico City: El Colegio de México: 2006).

[5] El Periquito, April 11, 1869, no.2, 8.

[6] El Periquito, April July 11, 1869, 1.

[7] “La Honradez,” El Mensajero de la Infancia, December 28, 1879, 3

Teaching, Learning, and Adapting Emotions in Uganda’s Child Leprosy Settlement, c.1930-62

Kathleen Vongsathorn introduces us to Chapter 4 of Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives.

By Kathleen Vongsathorn

The Kumi Children’s Leper Home was founded by the Anglican Church Missionary Society in 1930, for purpose of saving children from leprosy and transforming them into healthy, Christian citizens of the British Empire. Leprosy was a popular imperial philanthropic cause, and child leprosy sufferers were particularly prominent within this cause, in part because doctors believed children must be at the foundation of any successful effort to eradicate leprosy, but primarily because child leprosy patients presented a special opportunity. As children and as victims of leprosy, child leprosy sufferers were considered to be doubly vulnerable, and thus their potential salvation was an especially attractive prospect for philanthropists. Missionaries hoped to save these children from leprosy before the disease permanently disfigured them, but equally as important, in separating children from their supposedly dangerous and ‘primitive’ parents at a time in their lives when they were perceived as especially malleable, missionaries hoped to save child leprosy patients from backwardness, and to mould them into Christian citizens of the British Empire.

'Leper boys and girls, Kumi', Mission Hospital, 37.420 (1933 January), 7.

‘Leper boys and girls, Kumi’, Mission Hospital, 37.420 (1933 January), 7.

Missionaries perceived emotion as a means and an end in the physical and mental improvement of their child leprosy patients. They expected that life at the Kumi Children’s Leper Home would engender certain emotions in their child leprosy patients. Happiness, for example, was both an aim and an expectation, essential to healing children of their leprosy and to the experience of a real childhood, which the home purported to provide. Other emotions, like loyalty, courage, and nationalism, were expected to develop in conjunction with specific character traits that the missionaries encouraged in order to create healthy citizens of the British Empire. Missionaries employed a wide range of tactics in an attempt to create these emotions, from recreational activities meant to instil happiness, to drill exercises intended to promote British imperial pride, to a strict daily timetable meant to encourage respect and loyalty. These tactics were varying in their success, and Kumi’s child patients responded to the missionaries’ emotional agendas in a variety of ways, sometimes embracing or rejecting certain aspects, or other times performing emotions of happiness, enthusiasm, service, and obedience in order to win the missionaries’ favour and thus an opportunity for further education and economic advancement.

Taking missionaries at their word, all of the children at Kumi were truly happy, but looking beyond mission publications, it is evident that children at the settlement experienced both happiness and unhappiness.  Some children undoubtedly were happy at Kumi, with all the recreational, educational, and religious opportunities available.  When told that they were ready to be released symptom-free, some children wept and asked if they could return to the settlement if they were unhappy at home.  Equally, however, there were causes for unhappiness.

'Symptom-free children leaving Kumi Children's Leper Home and returning to their parents', Mission Hospital, 38.439 (August 1934), 184.

‘Symptom-free children leaving Kumi Children’s Leper Home and returning to their parents’, Mission Hospital, 38.439 (August 1934), 184.

Chief among the causes of unhappiness was separation from family, as exemplified by one child, when asked on his deathbed what he would like most, answering, ‘Sister I want to go home, just go home and see my people’.[i] In these instances, love was an emotion missionaries discouraged. If children were dying, missionaries did write to their relatives with an invitation to visit, but in general they did their best to displace relationships between children and their families, and lamented the necessity to allow children to go home to visit their parents. Some other causes of unhappiness were a dislike of school and the enforced routine that the children had to live under, disliking the painful injections they received as medical treatment, and forcing girls to eat eggs, which were culturally taboo for women. The latter is another example of the kind of emotion missionaries were trying to redirect: they hoped to transform respect for ‘native customs’ into respect for Christianity and British authority. They were not necessarily successful in this endeavour, however, as children acted out their unhappiness in a variety of ways, whether through ‘bad behaviour’ such as lying, stealing, or evading class, or through running away from the settlement, which about one in fifty children did annually.

[i] Leprosy Mission, 119/5, Gertrude Hopkins, ‘Leper work at Kumi and Ongino’, 1945.

Disciplining Young People’s Emotions in the Soviet Occupation Zone and Early German Democratic Republic

Juliane Brauer introduces us to some of the themes in Chapter 10 of Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives.

By Juliane Brauer

In the post-Second World War Soviet Occupation Zone the communists saw young people as bearers of hope and conceived them as ‘tomorrow’s heads of house’. That fed into political campaigns, attempting to control and regulate young people’s emotions and expectations. Because of this assumed connection between singing and reaching young people’s inner core, there was a widespread conviction that group singing in particular had the power to bind communities closer together. It was thus claimed that it should be used to shape collective identities and to communicate political messages, as well as to propagate a single emotional style. The chapter explains that the emotional dispositions targeted and propagated in emotional education included feelings of happiness, cheerfulness (ideally leading to commitment), activity, vigour, and ‘combative’ patriotism. Moreover, it seeks to show that education of the emotions was motivated by the presumed link between the young generation and the future of the socialist state.

Focusing on collective singing and newly composed songs shows that the education of young people aimed to foster young people’s hopes and wishes by orienting them towards visions of a socialist future. For the sake of the socialists’ utopian project, functionaries had to win over not only the minds, but also the hearts of young people. Communist expectations that young people would serve as bearers of hope fed into political campaigns directly addressed to them, attempting to control and regulate young people’s emotions, expectations, and notions of the future. Political programmes based on young people’s sponge-like capacity to receive education were a major feature of communist social systems. In the post-Second World War Soviet Occupation Zone, the education of young people aimed to summon them to action by promising them joy and jolliness, while at the same time turning the practice of these emotions into a duty.

10.1

Looking at the longer history of the GDR, however, shows that educating hearts and minds could also fail, precisely because of those optimistic visions, from which the youth chose to distance themselves. As Peter Stearns concluded, communist youth leaders were of the conviction that ‘children had to be remade’ and that ‘communism as an ideology was deeply imbued with the belief that children were born good, innocent, and improvable’. The socialist authorities made all their political decisions on education on the basis of this principle. At the centre of these decisions was thus the young person, conceived as a malleable object.

Why We Need a New Approach: Emotions and the Global Politics of Childhood

This post continues Karen Vallgårda‘s post on Chapter 2 in Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives. It argues that we need a new history-of-emotions toolbox to deal with central questions in the history of childhood and youth.

By Stephanie Olsen

Several of the chapters in Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives focus at least in part on children’s own emotional experiences, while others explore the emotional valance of children and their symbolic value. Other contributions explore adults’ efforts to cultivate or control children’s emotions, and the effects these had on children. Several chapters deal with the relationship between children and parents, or children and other authority figures. As the book’s contributors show, across time periods and in different geographical settings, young people have had to learn to navigate diverse emotional spaces and collectives. Children have learnt that the emotional standards in school or in the orphanage differed from those in the playground or that the types of emotional interaction in the factory were dissimilar to those at home. It is up to historians to lend specificity to, and point to the historical contingency of, these important questions of emotional cultivation, but the questions themselves have a global relevance.

Cover Palgrave Olsen

The chapters taken together have global reach. Wit this in mind, Karen Vallgårda, Kristine Alexander and I got together to come up with something we thought was needed within the history of childhood: a new analytical toolbox to open up the question of childhood emotions in a global context. How could we make seemingly ‘closed’ case studies ‘talk’ to one another? How could we deal with the complexities of transnational encounters, both in terms of dissonant concepts of childhood and their attendant emotions, and in terms of the experiences of children in a diversity of contexts? Could we not find a key to bring our research into line, making for viable comparative analysis without flattening out the richness of discrete cases?

These questions have led to the somewhat novel organization of this book. Chapter 2, “Emotions and the Global Politics of Childhood,” is the essential starting point. While each of the remaining chapters can be read individually, they will all be read more deeply through the lens of Chapter 2. We have provided a new theoretical approach for the combined fields of the global history of childhood and the history of emotions, which supplies the analytical key for navigating other chapters, both individually and as they interrelate. As Karen Vallgårda pointed out in her blog post, at the centre of this chapter are the concepts of ‘emotional formation’ and ‘emotional frontiers’, which repurpose existing history-of-emotions tools – the emotional community, emotional regimes, emotives – for the history of childhood. I did not, however, want to impose our constructions on the individual contributors to the book. They have brought their own research and their own sets of questions to the fore, and it only makes sense that the interpretations they make remain theirs. Chapter 2 provides a framework that binds the chapters together to forge a new historiographical direction.

Feeling Like A Child: Narratives of Development and the Hindu Child/Wife

Ishita Pande gives us a sneak peak of Chapter 3 in Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History: National, Colonial and Global Perspectives.

By Ishita Pande

If the critiques of child marriage (in India) relied on ethnological, biomedical, and anatomical facts cited to prove the biomedical and eugenic damage caused to the person and the race by precocious sex, a curious defence of the practice had come to rest on the grounds of emotion. Increasingly, reformers too pointed to the emotional damage caused by precocious conjugality, the most important of which was a loss of childhood itself.

To capture the enormity of this loss, novels such as Ratanbai attempted to track the thwarted desires of a child forced into wifehood. But operating in a context where the wedge between child and wife was yet to be made firm, Ratanbai could only take an abbreviated form, with the years of formation between childhood and wifehood signalled as an absence of narrative in the novel. These ‘blank’ years were gradually detailed in a new genre – sex education for girls and adolescents – in the 1920s and 1930s. The ‘universal’ trajectory of formation articulated in the Bildungsroman, and the ‘natural’ narrative of personal development offered by sexology, were examples of the informal means by which a newly legislated separation of child and wife came to be disseminated. Sexological works formulated a seemingly universal narrative of age-stratified personal development to emphasize the contradiction between childhood and wifehood.

Ishita imageFrom Shevantibai M. Nikambe, Ratanbai: A Sketch of a Bombay High Caste Hindu Young Wife (London: Marshall Brothers, 1895).

A discourse of emotion was crucial to the parsing of the figure of the child/wife in the 1920s. The sexologist A.P. Pillay depicted educated emotions as a taming of childish instincts in a manner that was reformist in its intent, even if it was socially conservative in its promotion of monogamous conjugality. In her more radical critique of the gender/caste structure of Hindu society, Sumati Bai evoked emotion to promote marriages of partnership and to criticize marriages based on the other, more dubious imperatives of caste, money, or family. These distinct evocations of emotion relied on the contrast between the image of the child with uninhibited sexual instinct and the adult trained for conjugality by a proper education of desire. In other words, neither author depicted the course of personal development as one from innocent childhood to knowing adulthood, but as the very opposite – a move from uncontrolled instinct to controlled emotion. ‘Childhood’ in other words, was conceptualized in sexualized terms. Reformers in the 1890s, drawing on biomedical statistics, had amply documented that the child was not physically prepared for marital sex. In the 1920s, sexologists suggested that the child was not emotionally prepared for conjugal love. In doing so, paradoxically, they configured the child in highly sexualized terms.

The figuration of the child/wife thus offers some food for thought to historians of emotions, as well as those of childhood. For historians of emotions, the sexological casting of instinct and emotion points to their mutual imbrication. As the works by Pillay and Sumati Bai demonstrate, while the distinction between the sex instinct and conjugal love was rhetorically invaluable, it was frail: both authors spilt considerable ink placing sexual desire at the heart of happy conjugality and in educating their readers on conjugal love while insisting on its pre-discursive essence. Both also acknowledged the corporeality of emotion while insisting on its transcendence of the body. In contrasting natural instinct with reasoned emotion (instead of highlighting a duality of emotion and reason), these works stopped short of naturalizing conjugal love, even as they insisted on a stadial theory of human development. For historians of childhood, the figuration of the child/wife points to the epistemic co-constitution of sexual norms and ideas of childhood, and suggests that a discourse on ‘childhood innocence’ was constituted under the shadow of its other – the spectre of the sexualized child.