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    Making young subjects: liminality and violence

    Wells, Karen (2017) Making young subjects: liminality and violence. In: Worth, N. and Dwyer, C. and Skelton, T. (eds.) Identities and Subjectivities. Geographies of Children and Young People 4. Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 215-230. ISBN 9789812870223.

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    This chapter argues for the explanatory efficacy of conceptualizing childhood as a liminal space and children as liminal subjects. It argues for recognition of an ontological difference between children and adults that makes children’s personhood precarious and insists on the importance of children’s social relationships for their material and symbolic survival. The chapter begins with an account of liminality in childhood and then moves on to explore how liminality renders the child sacred in the double sense of divine/otherworldly and sacrificial. This is particularly marked in infancy when the child is most vulnerable to bodily harm. The entry of the child into the symbolic order when he or she learns to talk is then explored to emphasize how speech is taken to be the signifier of human culture and asks what is the subject before speech? The child’s gradually increasing competence in language shadows or parallels the gradual decrease in its’ liminal position – a dance between culture and nature which eventually brings the child to the threshold of adulthood. If infancy marks one particularly intense moment in the liminality of the child, adolescence marks another. This chapter explicates genital cutting as a form of bodily injury that is explicitly related to the transition from one identity (child) to another (gendered adult).


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Age-grade system, British infanticide law, Language, Liminality in childhood. See personhood, Personhood, Genital cutting, cultural logic of, Language, Neonaticide and infanticide, Religious belief and social recognition, Religious/cultural rituals, Rites of passage, Social recognition
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Karen Wells
    Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2016 13:25
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:22


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