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The theory and practice of childhood: interrogating childhood as a technology of power

Breslow, Jacob (2016) The theory and practice of childhood: interrogating childhood as a technology of power. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores the social, political, and theoretical consequences that emerge when the contested category of “childhood” gets unequally applied to individuals and populations. The interdisciplinary theoretical project conceives of childhood as a technology of power that produces the contentious contours of various bodies and experiences, individuals and populations, and ways of life and forms of relation. It argues that childhood’s fantasmatic, figurative, and “real” subjects extend far beyond, and sometimes explicitly exclude, the early years of life. In conversation with childhood studies, feminist, trans, queer, critical-race, and psychoanalytic theory, this research is primarily concerned with the ways in which childhood is negotiated and re-imagined through discursive, institutional, and representational practices in the contemporary U.S. The analysis explores the psychic and political ambivalences of childhood, and attends to the investments in childhood’s uneven distribution. Asking specifically after the role of childhood in shaping and challenging the disposability of young black life, the queer life of children’s desires, and the steadfastness of the gender binary, this thesis outlines a theoretical framework of analysis that interdisciplinary scholars working in feminist, trans, queer, and anti-racist theory can use when addressing children and childhood, and it substantiates this framework through three case studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Jacob Breslow
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Supervisor: Wearing, Sadie and Hemmings, Clare

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