The materials analyzed demonstrate that while nationalism was rising as a set of ideologies and practices and the nation becoming increasingly consolidated as the origin of political power and the subject of citizenship rights, orphans and destitute children were depicted as an ambiguous category. While symbolically representing the future of the nation as its would-be citizens, destitute children were depicted as the virtual victims of their social environment’s moral decay and the potential bearers of a moral stigma that mortally threatened the nation. Until the end of World War I, children’s assistance focused on “coopting” children into the national community by acculturating them. In the interwar period, formal education took over the acculturation task, and institutionalized children became the object of an increasing tendency to separate the morally and physically “defective” from other children as a tool to prevent the “contamination” of the “healthy” part of the would-be citizenry.
KeywordsOrphans Child care Nationalism
- Sandin, Bengt. 1995. “The Century of the Child.” On the Changed Meaning of Childhood in the Twentieth Century. Working Papers on Childhood and the Study of Children 2: 1–21.Google Scholar