CFP: Special Issue on South Asian Children's Literature

This call for papers announces a Special issue of the Journal of Asian and African Studies focused on Children’s Literature in South Asia. Some common themes for pre-modern fairy/folk tales in South Asia (as in the rest of the world) were: incest in various forms, ogress mothers eating their own children with great relish and general violence against the weak, the poor and/or children. It was thus with great “moral responsibility” that both the European ethnographer and his western educated indigenous counterpart set about, in the nineteenth century, to collect and sanitize these stories.  The goal for them was to create a set of narratives that was deemed appropriate for the consumption of children.

The colonial ethnographer’s concern for the delicate sensibilities of children brings to focus a range of new discursive issues that emerged in the nineteenth century in South Asia.  The first is of course the category of the “child” itself and recent scholarship has creatively delineated the historical processes that constituted the “child’s” formation and demanded its integration into the new nation.  Far less studied have been the ideological tools that assisted the birth of this new “child”.

We are particularly interested in soliciting papers that explore:

  • The legacy of colonialism in South Asian children’s literature
  • The various vernacular literary traditions that emerged to historicize childhood and children.
  • The segregation and consolidation of the “traditional” (oral/folk-tales) and “modern” in children’s narratives.
  • The role of the market in determining the extent and nature of the publishing industry for children’s books
  • New literary traditions such as detective fiction and ghost-stories that both constituted and reconfigured a separate genre of “children’s literature”.
  • Non-fiction writing for children, with special emphasis on journals for children
  • The role of translation in children’s fiction
  • Scientific and medical practices that legitimized the new epistemic field of studying and caring for children
  • The effects that the new category of the “child” had on older structures of family and familial practices.

Please send a 300-500 word abstract to the guest editor Tithi Bhattacharya at tbhattac@purdue.edu with the subject line

“Children’s Literature in South Asia” by October 1, 2010. Invitations to submit full papers will be sent one to two weeks after the abstract deadline.
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Tithi Bhattacharya
Purdue University