Skip to main content

Under Control. Childhood and 20th Century Dictatorships (1917-1991)



Locandina


Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (University of Warwick)

Dr. Nick Baron (University of Nottingham)

Final Programme

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to investigate the complex relationships between childhood and dictatorship across Western and Eastern Europe as well as South America in the Twentieth century. By encompassing in the notion of dictatorship both absolute forms of power such as totalitarianisms, as well as military dictatorships, this conference explores how Twentieth-century dictatorships have constructed children as a targeted and privileged audience to educate and control through educational policies and a wide range of cultural means. Possible, but not exclusive, case studies will include: Russia (1917-1991), Italy (1922 – 1945), Portugal (1932 – 1974), Germany (1933-1945), Spain (1939-1975), Argentina (1976-1983) and Chile (1973-1990). Given that children’s cognitive development is based on processes of assimilation and accommodation of external inputs (J. Piaget 1952), future adults may have their thoughts and perceptions shaped by many tools, from toys (Walter Benjamin 1924; Roland Barthes 1957) to the language of education (Jerome Bruner 1986). During the Twentieth century, political systems – and especially dictatorships – realised that children were a particularly fruitful ‘mass’ to shape, and consequently tried to exercise influence on them through educational policies as well as a wide range of cultural means such as literature, textbooks, cinema, the visual arts, radio and TV broadcasting. The conference aims to investigate how dictatorial regimes tried to control and mould children, focusing on the mechanisms and instruments devised for that purpose. The conference aims to tackle the following issues:

  • Instruments of control over children. To what extent did literature, cinema, radio, the visual arts and education (embracing also the diffusion of youth organizations, e.g. Communist ‘Pioneers movements’, the German ‘Hitler youth’, or the Italian ‘Opera Nazionale Balilla’) attempt to shape children’s thinking and perception?
  • The mechanisms at the root of control. How do literary and cultural studies, psychology, philosophy and pedagogy approach issues surrounding the control and manipulation of children?
  • Historical perspectives What are the continuities and discontinuities between Twentieth-century dictatorships in relation to their commitment to children’s education and leisure?


For further information, please contact: V dot Abbatelli at warwick dot ac dot uk and P dot Roccella at warwick dot ac dot uk