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Of all the Federal Arts Projects set up as part of the New Deal, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) was, in the words of one contemporary, the ‘ugly duckling’ (p. 35).
Within the burgeoning field of the history of childhood this collection attempts to offer something unique. It seeks to contribute to our understanding of the lived experience of children across the British world from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century and considers the construction of childhood within a global network of empire.
We all now realise that fascism was a very serious business indeed, and historians have been treating it seriously for some time, even its maligned claim to be totalitarian. Historians have also moved way beyond the still lingering popular perception that Italian Fascism was somehow less radical, less totalitarian, less ‘fascist’ than German Nazism.
Though Denmark was once an imperial power, it was only ever a minor one.
Sportswear is as much a signifier of American cultural identity as are apple pie and the Super Bowl.
Empire’s Children is far from the now well-worn tale of imperial decline. It locates the shifting fortunes of the child emigration movement at the heart of the reconfiguration of identities, political economies, and nationalisms in Britain, Canada, Australia, and Rhodesia.
Posted up on my fridge door is one of those certificates with which any parent of primary school aged children over the past decade or so would be familiar – accessorised with stars and stickers and smiley faces, the award acknowledges one of the kids for their ‘Awesome Effort for Remaining Open to Continuous Learning’.
In today’s society in which risk is seen as a negative in so many circumstances, it is easy to conclude the children have much less freedom than in the past. It is also easy to idealise a past in which children were more free and risks were much fewer.
Asked to call to mind images of children and war in Britain, and the most ready association is that of children living through the ordeal of bombing and evacuation in the Second World War. The Children’s War, Britain 1914–1918 re-directs our attention to the lives of British children in the Great War.
Sometime, around the middle of the 20th century, the British began to think differently about the well-being of children. Where anxieties had once dwelt on malnourished and disease-ridden bodies, they now shifted to contemplate the civilizational consequences of young disordered minds.