Teaching “Global Childhoods”: From a Cultural Mapping of “Them” to a Diagnostic Reading of “Us/US”

  • Sarada BalagopalanEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies on Children and Development book series (PSCD)


As scholars researching children and childhood, most of us have an additional important role of teaching on these themes. Pedagogic strategies can, therefore, play a key role in encouraging students to move beyond binary categorization of children’s lives into “them” versus “us”. Often, what is left out of this reductive framing are questions of history and political economy as well as a critical reading of power, philanthropy, and the politics of media representations. This chapter offers a specific focus on the intellectual and pedagogical complexities, efforts, and challenges in teaching a course on “Global Childhoods” to undergraduates in Camden, NJ. This course compelled me to open up the “global” beyond a discussion of childhoods as multiple to instead rework the term to function as a productive node to discuss the flow of ideas, persons, commodities, media, and policies that affect children’s lives around the world, including those in Camden.


  1. Abebe, T., & Ofusu-Kusi, Y. (2016). Beyond Pluralizing African Childhoods: Introduction. Childhood: A Global Journal of Child Research, 23(3), 303–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adorno, T. (1973). Negative Dialectics. London: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson-Levitt, K. (2005). The Schoolyard Gate: Schooling and Childhood in Global Perspective. Journal of Social History, 38(4), 987–1006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balagopalan, S. (2002). Constructing Indigenous Childhoods: Colonialism, Vocational Education and the Working Child. Childhood, 9(1), 19–34.Google Scholar
  5. Balagopalan, S. (2011). Introduction: Children’s Lives and the Indian Context. Childhood, 18(3), 291–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balagopalan, S. (2014). Inhabiting ‘Childhood’: Children, Labour and Schooling in Postcolonial India. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  7. Balagopalan, S. (2018a). Colonial Modernity and the ‘Child Figure’: Refiguring the Multiplicity in ‘Multiple Childhoods’. In T. Saraswathi et al. (Eds.), Childhoods in India: Traditions, Trends and Transformations. New Delhi: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Balagopalan, S. (2018b). Childhood, Culture, History: Beyond ‘Multiple Childhoods’. In R. Rosen, S. Spyrou, & D. Cook (Eds.), Reimagining Childhood Studies: Connectivities, Relationalities, Linkages. London: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
  9. Banaji, S. (2015). Behind the High-Tech Fetish: Children, Work and Media Use Across Classes in India. International Communication Gazette, 77(6), 519–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berlant, L. (2004). Introduction: Compassion (and Withholding). In L. Berlant (Ed.), On Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Bhaba, H. (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Bissel, S. (2003). The Social Construction of Childhood: A Perspective from Bangladesh. In N. Kabeer, G. Nambissan, & R. Subrahmanian (Eds.), Child Labour and the Right to Education in South Asia: Needs Versus Rights? New Delhi: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Bornstein, E. (2001). Child Sponsorship, Evangelism, and Belonging in the Work of World Vision Zimbabwe. American Ethnologist, 28(3), 595–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bourdillon, M., Levinson, D., Myers, W., & White, B. (2011). Rights and Wrongs of Children’s Work. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Brown, W. (2005). Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Boyden, J. (1997). Childhood and Policymakers: A Comparative Study on the Globalization of Childhood. In A. James & A. Prout (Eds.), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  17. Buckingham, D. (2007). Childhood in the Age of Global Media. Children’s Geographies, 5(1–2), 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Butler, J. (2000). Restaging the Universal: Hegemony and the Limits of Formalism. In J. Butler, E. Laclau, & S. Zizek (Eds.), Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Burman, E. (1996). Local, Global or Globalized? Child Development and International Child Rights Legislation. Childhood, 3(1), 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chakrabarti, D. (2000). Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Chatterjee, P. (2004). Politics of the Governed: Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Cole, J. (2008). Fashioning Distinction: Youth and Consumerism in Urban Madagascar. In J. Cole & D. Durham (Eds.), Figuring the Future: Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth (pp. 99–124). Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.Google Scholar
  23. Cooper, F., & Stoler, A. (1989). Introduction Tensions of Empire: Colonial Control and Visions of Rule. American Ethnologist, 16(4), 609–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cross, G. (2005). Japan, the US and the Globalization of Children’s Consumer Culture. Journal of Social History, 38(4), 873–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dunae, P. (1980). Boy’s Literature and the Idea of Empire, 1870–1914. Victorian Studies, 24(1), 105–121.Google Scholar
  26. Dyson, J. (2014). Working Childhoods: Youth, Agency and the Environment in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Fabian, J. (1983). Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Fass, P. (2005). Children in Global Migrations. Journal of Social History, 38(4), 937–953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (2nd ed.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  31. Gordon, L. (2008). The Perils of Innocence: What’s Wrong with Putting Children First. Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth, 1(3), 331–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gramsci, A. (2000). In D. Forgacs (Ed.), The Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916–1935. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Grier, B. (2006). Invisible Hands: Child Labor and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe. Portsmouth: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  34. Hertel, S. (2006). Chapter 3: Child Labor, Child Rights and Transnational Advocacy: The Case of Bangladesh. In Unexpected Power: Conflict and Change Amongst Transnational Activists (pp. 31–54). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Honwana, A. (2012). The Time of Youth: Work, Social Change and Politics in Africa. Sterling: Kumarian Press.Google Scholar
  36. Huijsmans, R., George, S., & Gigengack, R. (2014). Theorising Age and Generation in Development: A Relational Approach. European Journal of Development Research, 26(2), 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hurtig, J. (2008). Coming of Age in Times of Crisis: Youth, Schooling, and Patriarchy in a Venezuelan Town. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jacobs, M. (2006). Indian Boarding Schools in Comparative Perspective: The Removal of Indigenous Children in United States and Australia, 1880–1940. In C. Trafzer et al. (Eds.), Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  39. James, A., & Prout, A. (Eds.). (1997). Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  40. Katz, C. (2004). Growing Up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  41. Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class and Family Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  42. Malkki, L. (1996). Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism and Dehistoricization. Cultural Anthropology, 11(3), 377–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Manzo, K. (2008). Imaging Humanitarianism: NGO Identity and the Iconography of Childhood. Antipode, 40(4), 632–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marten, J. (Ed.) (2006). Children in Colonial America, ‘I Have Often Been Overcome While Thinking of it’: A Slave Boy’s Life (pp. 63–74). New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  45. Mintz, S. (2004). Chapter 2: Red, White and Black in Colonial America. In Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Nakuga, M. (2008). The Underlife of Kids’ School Lunchtime: Negotiating Ethnic Boundaries and Identity in Food Exchange. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 37(3), 342–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nieuwenhuys, O. (1998). Global Childhoods and the Politics of Contempt. Alternatives, 23(3), 267–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Said, E. (1989). Representing the Colonized: Anthropology’s Interlocuters. Critical Inquiry, 15(2), 205–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Spivak, G. (1993). Outside in the Teaching Machine. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Spivak, G. (2004). Righting Wrongs. South Atlantic Quarterly, 103, 523–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stafford, C. (1995). The Roads of Chinese Childhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stephens, S. (1995). Children and the Politics of Culture in Late Capitalism. In S. Stephens (Ed.), Children and the Politics of Culture (pp. 3–48). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Swanson, K. (2010). Begging as a Path to Progress: Indigenous Women and Children and the Struggle for Ecuador’s Urban Spaces. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  54. Thorne, B. (2008). ‘The Chinese Girls’ and ‘The Pokemon Kids’: Children Negotiating Differences in Urban California. In J. Cole & D. Durham (Eds.), Figuring the Future: Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth (pp. 73–98). Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press.Google Scholar
  55. Twum-Danso Imoh, A. (2016). From the Singular to the Plural: Exploring Diversities in Contemporary Childhoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. Childhood, 23(3), 455–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vallargada, K. (2011). Adam’s Escape: Children and the Discordant Nature of Colonial Conversions. Childhood, 18(3), 298–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Van Blerk, L., & Ansell, N. (2006). Children’s Experiences of Migration: Moving in the Wake of AIDS in Southern Africa. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24, 449–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wagner, G. (1982). Chapter 1: Early Child Emigrants. In Children of the Empire (pp. 1–18). London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.Google Scholar
  59. Wells, K. (2009). Childhood in a Global Perspective. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  60. Williams, T. (2016). Theorizing Children’s Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations in Rural Rwanda. Childhood, 23(3), 333–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Childhood StudiesRutgers, The State University of New JerseyCamdenUSA

Personalised recommendations