Healing the World's Children

Healing the World's Children: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Child Health in the Twentieth Century

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  • Book Info
    Healing the World's Children
    Book Description:

    Essays range from historical overviews and historiographic surveys of children's health in various regions of the world, to disability and affliction narratives - from polio in North American to AIDS orphans in post-Apartheid South Africa - to interpretations of artistic renderings of sick children that tell us much about medicine, family, and society at specific times in history.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7458-8
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION Healing the World’s Children
    (pp. 3-14)

    At the historic 1990 World Summit for Children, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sought to inscribe in international law an irrevocable state commitment to the protection of the young. “Children must get the best possible start in life. Their survival, protection, growth and development in good health and with proper nutrition is the essential foundation of human development. We will make concerted efforts to fight infectious diseases, tackle major causes of malnutrition and nurture children in a safe environment that enables them to be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and able to...

    • 1 North American Perspectives on the History of Child Health in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 17-49)

      This survey emerged from an extensive but nonetheless impressionistic reading in the substantial literature that has developed on the subject of child health in North America during the twentieth century. I must emphasize that the subject permits other summaries and interpretations. After setting the stage with brief accounts describing children’s illness and death, I discuss the following topics that emerged from my rummaging: a summary of what I see as the broader context; the literature dealing with the decline in infant mortality; the role of schools in improving the health of children; the emergence of notions of “normality;” the mixed...

    • 2 Recent Work on the History of Childhood in Europe
      (pp. 50-72)

      Since the pioneering work by Lloyd de Mause, Peter Laslett, and Philippe Ariès, to mention only the best-known authors, research on children’s history has become more plentiful and varied in Europe. It is of course somewhat artificial to deal with European research as a separate subject, since research, methods, themes, and networks have become progressively more internationalized. Nevertheless, given the profusion of work published over the past three decades throughout the world, a synthetic view of what has been accomplished in Europe these past fifteen years seems necessary and justified.¹

      Research on childhood today can be divided into four broad...

    • 3 Historiography of Infant and Child Health in Latin America
      (pp. 73-108)

      The proliferating historical studies of child health in Europe and North America over the past decades have made the need to examine the “hidden history” of child and infant health and well-being in other parts of the world all the more pressing. Latin America offers an extremely useful venue in which to assess whether the better-documented patterns of child and infant health and mortality in modern Europe are generalizable to other settings, to gauge the extent to which the colonial period’s institutional, social, and cultural legacy has permeated more recent state-building approaches to child health and well-being in different countries...

    • 4 AIDS Orphans, Raped Babies, and Suffering Children: The Moral Construction of Childhood in Post-Apartheid South Africa
      (pp. 111-124)

      During the opening ceremony of the Thirteenth International Conference on AIDS on 9 July 2000 in Durban, first city of the Third World to host this global meeting, it was not the South African president Thabo Mbeki who appeared as the star of the event but a young South African boy. Whereas the president was ostensibly despised – half the audience left in response to his so-called denialism as he started to speak – the boy received a standing ovation when he took the floor. He started his speech with these words: “Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson. I live in Melville,...

    • 5 Cure and the Contempt of Goodwill: Reason and Feeling in Disability Narratives, 1850–1950 Tools of the Trade
      (pp. 125-158)

      Walking in public spaces with my daughter always prompted certain encounters that, after a while, we could anticipate. These incidents arose because of her visible disability, a “difference” that generated a loss of the anonymity typically possessed by families or individuals moving about. Strangers would come up to us and say things like, “Well, she’s doing just fine, isn’t she?” Or, less secure and with elevated rising tones near the question mark, “She will be okay, won’t she?” Children’s queries were often blunt and usually directed to her: “What’s wrong with you?” – said with genuine curiosity but sometimes with aggression,...

    • 6 “It’s Back”: Children with Cancer Talking about Their Illness When Cure Is Not Likely
      (pp. 161-175)

      Jeffrey Andrews was five years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. He died less than two years later. Those years were marked by relapses in both spinal fluid and bone marrow, aggressive chemotherapy, frequent visits to outpatient clinics, and hospitalizations as physicians tried not only to treat the cancer but also to relieve the pain and discomfort wrought by the disease and the side effects of treatment. In the months preceding his death, Jeffrey was constantly shouting at his mother. Nothing she did seemed right. The TV was too loud; no, it was too soft. There was...

    • 7 Size Matters: Medical Experts, Educators, and the Provision of Health Services to Children in Early to Mid-Twentieth Century English Canada
      (pp. 176-202)

      One of the key insights from the growing field of body studies for our understanding of children’s historical experiences, particularly from feminist and postcolonial scholars, is that social processes are written upon and taken up by and through bodies.¹ Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called such unconscious and embodied reproduction of social structures “habitus.” For Bourdieu, the concept of habitus encompasses all the ways human beings learn to be in the world – ways that are often taken for granted and assumed to be “natural” – and how, in turn, such embodied knowledge contributes to social reproduction.² In the process of colonization, the work...

    • 8 More Than the Names Have Changed: Exploring the Historical Epidemiology of Intellectual Disability in the United States
      (pp. 205-234)

      Few people in the United States have devoted more attention to improving public policy for persons with disabilities than Eunice and Sargent Shriver. When John F. Kennedy was president, his sister Eunice and brother-in-law Sargent used their informal political clout and personal resources to ensure that the federal government invested substantial resources in programs for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. In part because Eunice and John’s sister Rose had a neurodevelopmental disability, the Kennedy family has focused its considerable financial and political might on developmental disability issues over the past five decades.¹ It was not surprising, then, that...

    • 9 Politics, Policy, and the Measuring of Child Health: Child Malnutrition in the Great Depression
      (pp. 235-252)

      Child health: how do we define it and how do we measure its status and trends? These questions, although essentially epidemiological and statistical, have been highly politicized in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, often at the heart of rancorous public debates on the adequacy of the state’s commitment to public welfare and on the relative responsibilities of parents, community, and government to protect and promote the survival and physical welfare of society’s youngest members.¹ In this chapter I examine how issues of child health measurement and description were at the centre of one such rancorous debate that occurred in the...

    • 10 When the Children Are Sick, So Is Society: Dr Norman Bethune and the Montreal Circle of Artists
      (pp. 255-281)

      During the Great Depression and into the 1940s, Montreal artists were questioning the social responsibility of the artist and, by extension, the social role of art. Creating and disseminating images of poor and sick children were for them significant means of conveying their dissatisfaction with society’s neglect of fundamental values, a neglect exacerbated by widespread economic and social conditions.

      Norman Bethune, a physician and artist who was dedicated to radical social change, was an important catalyst in raising the consciousness of Montreal artists. In December 1926 Bethune had become a patient at the Trudeau Sanatorium in Saranac Lake, New York.¹...

    • 11 From the Final Sleep to the First Steps: Postmortem Portraiture and Childhood and Amateur Photography
      (pp. 282-294)

      The contemporary mass media enjoy an almost total monopoly over images of death: natural catastrophes, terrorist acts, various extremes of violence, and lesser but “newsworthy” calamities form the backdrop of contemporary representations of human mortality. At times our screens are inundated by bodies: unidentified, faraway, vague, or indeterminate identities the electronic media too often carry to us anonymously, as if they lacked distinctive features or qualities. All that we retain of these denigrated bodies are place names: Kigali, Baghdad, Beslan. The sensational images may spark commotion or apathy, fear or compassion. Rarely if ever do they invite us to step...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 295-296)
  13. Index
    (pp. 297-307)