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Youth and EmpireTrans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia$
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David M. Pomfret

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804795173

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804795173.001.0001

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Cultural Contagions

Cultural Contagions

Children in the Colonial Home

(p.54) Chapter 3 Cultural Contagions
Youth and Empire

David M. Pomfret

Stanford University Press

‘Cultural Contagions’ looks at the ‘intimate’ space of the home and parents' and servants' attempts to micromanage children within it. This chapter argues that children in the colonial home were never merely passive recipients of notions of place and race. Instead, parents and children produced colonial childhood through dialogic interactions. Taking a set of encounters with disease and ill health, with non-European children and with domestic servants in four different contexts this chapter reveals how children ‘spoke back’ to the presumptions of vulnerability discussed in chapter 2. Drawing upon memoirs, autobiographies and letters it argues that children were active participants in cultures of mobility and inter-ethnic engagement. These shared practices exceeded the boundaries of meaning adults drew around them, and often confounded hopes that childhood would underpin racial-national hierarchies in empire.

Keywords:   Home, Tropics, empire, hygiene, domestic, childhood, medicine, health, childrearing, servants

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