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Figuring ViolenceAffective Investments in Perpetual War$
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Rebecca A. Adelman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823281671

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823281671.001.0001

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Envisioning Civilian Childhood

Envisioning Civilian Childhood

(p.27) Chapter 1 Envisioning Civilian Childhood
Figuring Violence

Rebecca A. Adelman

Fordham University Press

“Envisioning Civilian Childhood” focuses on a collection of scandals related to the exposure of civilian children to militarized violence. These scandals are fueled by the affects of apprehension, affection, admiration, gratitude, pity, and anger, and all of them unfold in classrooms. In every case, a range of stakeholders—including parents, administrators, and journalists—rush to the defense of the children’s senses, especially their sight, to insist that they deserve a view of the world unclouded by violence. To contextualize the anxieties reflected in these scandals, the chapter begins with a brief history of the construct of ‘childhood’ in America, from the Colonial period to the present. This history demonstrates that predominant beliefs about childhood innocence are not simply natural responses to their vulnerability. Instead, these beliefs are historically variable, socially constructed, and unevenly applied to different types of children. Here, they are activated around the civilian child encountering the graphic realities of war. An analysis of the resultant scandals reveals that these affects become overwhelming when the vision of the innocent, apolitical child is threatened, insulted, or troubled.

Keywords:   atrocity, childhood, children’s art, education, innocence, political subjectivity, spectatorship, terror, vulnerability

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