19 Pages


WithShailaja Menon, T. S. Saraswathi

This chapter introduces readers to the context that gave birth to this book and explains the organisation of the book. The first part of the chapter sets the context. An academic symposium titled ‘Childhoods in India: Tradition, Trends and Transformations’ was held at Azim Premji University in November 2015. The symposium brought together select scholars, thinkers and practitioners from diverse disciplinary perspectives. The chapters included in this book represent many of the papers presented at this symposium and others that were invited afterwards to fill in crucial gaps. Put together, the chapters raise questions about the universal theories of children and childhood advocated by classic developmental psychologists and point, instead, to the culturally located development of children. While valuable, this effort gives rise to certain ‘productive tensions’, which are identified and discussed in the Introduction. The second part of the Introduction provides the reader with a bird’s-eye view of the 17 chapters that make up the remainder of the volume, organised into four themes and an Epilogue. The four themes are recovering histories; deconstructing childhoods; narratives of power and representations of childhood; the normative child: institutionalization through education and schooling and law, practice and policy. These four themes are followed by an Epilogue that presents a commentary (in the form of a dialogue among several participants) related to the theme of child rights.