Understanding Childhood and Construction of National Identities in Central and Eastern Europe from 18th Century until the Beginning of the Second World War


Do. 16.06.2022 | 10:00 -
Fr. 17.06.2022 | 18:00 Uhr
Dr. Gintarė Malinauskaitė

The notion of childhood is a socio-historical construction, as it is might be seen differently not only in various cultures but also experienced differently within the same society. Even the definition of who is a child has changed over time, revealing fluctuations of childhood periodization. Therefore, the understanding of childhood is always in the process and its notion might be constantly shifting. French historian Philippe Ariès designated the birth of modern conception of childhood in Western countries in the long eighteenth century, even though he was criticized for overseeing many sources revealing the perceptions of childhood in medieval society. In this period, children commenced to be separated from the adults and were gradually turned into the objects of new state policies. Nevertheless, it was only in the nineteenth century when childhood became universalized and was inscribed as an important element in the development of nation states and their future. Consequently, children had to be socialized not only within the context of their families and communities, but they had likewise to become part of a national narrative.

Nonetheless, the majority of scholarly research related to the childhood and its history in this period focuses on Western European countries, while the childhood and children experiences in Central and Eastern Europe remain a largely underinvestigated topic. To better illuminate this issue, this conference aims to assemble scholars, who work on the history of childhood in Central and Eastern Europe, to present their current research findings in this field. Through the inclusion of the category of childhood this conference seeks to offer new insights into different historical events and processes in these countries. We welcome papers that analyze how the representations of childhood have manifested in the construction of national identities in this region from 18th century until the beginning of the Second World War. The conference will particularly welcome researchers who currently study the history of childhood within larger imperial frameworks, comprising of different nations and national identities. For example, analyzing such questions: How have the notion of childhood and children experiences differed in the Tsarist, Austro-Hungarian and Prussian empires? How were these different identities and loyalties expressed through the notion of childhood? How was the childhood constructed in such complexed cultural and social contexts? 

The conference will be organized by:

Dr. Gintarė Malinauskaitė (Branch Office Vilnius of the German Historical Institute Warsaw)

Deadline for submission of proposals: 30 June 2020

Notification due: 15 July 2020

Location and date: Vilnius, 16-17 June 2022

Call for Papers

Please find the conference program here: Download Flyer

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