"Re-Staging Childhood" Conference
Lemelson/SPA Conference Fund
David F. Lancy, Organizer
John Bock and Suzanne Gaskins Co-Organizers
Conference Dates:
August 6-10, 2009
Bear Lake, Utah

Most anthropologists—even those who study marriage, kinship and family—often ignore children, in spite of the fact that one of the principal components of culture is the production of each new generation whose agenda, in turn, includes the transmission of that culture into the future. Within anthropology, scholarly interest in childhood has been rather like five blind men describing an elephant. There are vital, but isolated, scholarly communities studying children and their development, including psychological anthropology. Hence, a comprehensive, wholisticholistic view of childhood has not yet emerged. We propose to convene a group of scholars whose research perspectives span the entire spectrum of scholarship on culture and childhood. And we will charge this group with the task of constructing a coherent and theoretically robust description of the stages and transitions in childhood.

While psychological anthropologists and others have long taken note of the cultural and biological markers that signal important transitions in the life course (especially during the pre-adult period), recently there been new attempts to examine these transitions across a broad spectrum of societies and across the entire pre-adult portion of the lifespan. In view of recent advances in Life History Theory, new initiatives in archaeology focused on children, and eye-opening studies of street children and child soldiers, we believe an opportunity exists to construct a model of childhood that is fully informed by the findings, methods and theoretical perspectives of anthropology. This new conceptualization of children and childhood within various sub-fields suggests that this is a propitious time to develop an integrative anthropological perspective on children...

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