Eileen M. Murphy shares part of her editorial
The volume commences with a paper by Mélie Le Roy, Stéphane Rottier and Anne-Marie
Tillier that asks: ‘Who was a “Child” During the Neolithic in France?’. The study focuses on juvenile remains recovered from Neolithic (5700–2100 BC) tombs and investigates funerary practices, age distribution and burial location to determine the place of children within the different cultural groups of the Early, Middle and Later Neolithic in both northern and southern France. Young children seem to be under-represented across the entire Neolithic throughout France and ethnographic data is called upon to help explain this phenomenon. Four different forms of age selection are identified in relation to the juveniles contained within collective burials.
The paper of Emma Harper discusses the contribution that artefacts recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which encourages the voluntary recording of archaeological objects in England and Wales, can make to discussions of later mediaeval childhood. The study focuses on objects that have been identified as toys, and particularly those described as figures or dolls. Drawing upon evidence derived from theoretical discussions of past childhood, archaeological excavations and contemporary written and artistic accounts, she argues that the various characteristics of the dolls are suggestive of both the imposition of behaviours upon children by adults but also the direct agency of children. While contemporary documentary sources have a tendency to yield information about the play items of children from elite families, the material record has the advantage of providing a more balanced perspective since objects used for play among the lower classes of society have also been discovered.
Olga Boitsova and Ekaterina Orekh investigate the significance of colour in children’s clothing in relation to the Soviet ideology of childhood in Russia. Their analysis focuses on data contained within twentieth-century Soviet advice books, brochures and thematic articles in fashion magazines, as well as postcards and illustrations from school books. They discuss how the colours evident in children’s clothing can be linked to a history of ideas, particularly in relation to issues such as gender. Their evidence suggests that children were viewed in a gender-neutral, asexual manner in Soviet Russia, a perspective that did not change until the 1980s when genderisation of clothing images was first observed. Up until this point official discourse on children’s clothes was unanimous and light colours, including pink, were considered markers of childhood for both boys and girls.
In his paper, Ian Waites uses a selection of photographs taken in the early 1970s of children on a post-World War Two British council estate in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, as a means ofunderstanding the nature of life for these children. Having grown up on the Middle field Lane estate included in the paper, Waites provides a poignant first-hand review of how the planning and layout of the estate was intended to function as a crucial influence on the development of the children who lived there. He suggests that children were often included in the photographs to promote a sense of well-being and community within these estates that were considered one of the cornerstones of post-war social reconstruction in Britain.
The issue ends with a collection of book reviews edited by Simon Mays.