Child, Image, Nation
By Erica Burman
Routledge – 2008 – 336 pages
How does developmental psychology connect with the developing world? What do cultural representations tell us about the contemporary politics of childhood? What is the political economy of childhood?
This companion volume to Burman's Deconstructing Developmental Psychology helps us to explain why questions around children and childhood - their safety, their sexuality, their interests and abilities, their violence - have so preoccupied the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In this increasingly post-industrial, post-colonial and multicultural world, this book identifies analytical and practical strategies for improving how we think about and work with children. Drawing in particular on feminist and postdevelopment literatures, the book illustrates how and why reconceptualising our notions of individual and human development, including those informing models of children's rights and interests, will foster more just and equitable forms of professional practice with children and their families.
The book brings together completely new, previously unpublished material alongside revised and updated papers to present a cutting-edge and integrated perspective to the field. Burman offers a key contribution to a set of urgent debates engaging theory and method, policy and practice across all the disciplines that work with, or lay claim to, children's interests.
Developments presents a coherent and persuasive set of arguments about childhood, culture and professional practice so that the sustained focus across a range of disciplinary arenas (psychology, education, cultural studies, child rights, gender studies, development policy and practice, social policy) strengthens the overall argument of each chapter. It will be invaluable to teachers and students in psychology, childhood studies and education as well as researchers in gender studies. It will also be a must-read for professionals working with children and adolescents.
"The book is a brave and groundbreaking contribution from within developmental psychology … It should be mandatory reading for child psychologists and sociologists but also for all professionals and researchers working from the now increasingly popular children’s rights perspective. I can only hope that developmental psychologists will prove willing to engage on the path Burman sets out for them." – Mergot Pels, University of Amsterdam, in Childhood
"Developments offers us a convincing and expansive critical engagement with a range of developmental debates. This is authentic scholarship - erudite and rigorous - and although the language is correspondingly academic, it never lapses into the dogged obscurantism that typifies postcolonial theory. The book succeeds stylistically precisely because the exactness of the language exemplifies the meticulousness of the research. But it works too because the densely theoretical arguments are animated by moments of lighter conceptual play, that act equally well to upset long-held assumptions. … Developments shows us that there are ways to use theory, and interrupt practice, to arrive at more ethical-political (anti)developmental conclusions. Above all, it urges us to try." - Pauline Whelan in Cultural Studies
"Developments could be a useful textbook for any postgraduate course that takes a critical perspective on developmental concerns. There is such a breadth and depth to the questions Burman raises in this book that I think postgraduate students – including experienced educators, psychologists, counsellors, community workers and policy makers from a range of countries – will find a great deal to extend their current thinking and reflexivity in their work with children and young people." - Lise Bird Claiborne, University of Waikato, New Zealand, in Feminism & Psychology
"This is an important book that Educational Psychology Services cannot justly ignore. … As a profession and as individual practitioners we need to know and share how we position ourselves against Burman’s analysis." - Janet Phillips in Educational Psychology in Practice
"Developments expands on the critical work of scholars in education, sociology, psychology, and other emergent fields of critical social science to address the relationship between discourses of developmental psychology and economic development. Those of us who are concerned with critique, power, and justice will consider it a major contribution." - Gaile S. Cannella, Tulane University, USA
"This book traverses terrain usually thought of as distinct and challenges us to think in complex ways about complex issues. It's a provocative read for anyone engaged in debates (and entangled in action!) to do with developments of childhood, (inter)national dynamics and re-presentations of these realities." - Professor Jill Bradbury, School of Psychology, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
"This book exhibits the strengths that I have come to admire in Burman: originality and creative imagination; an impressive erudition; boldness in crossing disciplinary boundaries; and and a distinctive verve in exposing oppressive structures. This is a seminal, highly original book that is bound to inspire the growing number of students and young academics interested in global childhood research." - Olga Nieuwenhuys, University of Amsterdam
"With this book the reader has in their hands the synthesis of one of the most powerful and deepest thinkers in the field of childhood that we have today." - Christian Dunker, University of São Paulo, Brazil
"Powerfully written from page one to the last, this is a devastating intellectual blow to both post-modernist and modernist discourses in the social sciences. This is a book that should open the eyes of reflexive practitioners who take their work seriously and are interested in people with whom they work." - Jaan Valsiner, Professor of Psychology, Clark University, USA
Acknowledgments. Introduction. Part 1. Children and Development: What is at Stake? Dis/Placing Development. The Child, the Woman and the Cyborg: (Im)possibilities of Feminist Developmental Psychology. Pedagogics of Post/Modernity: The Address to the Child as Political Object and Subject. Part 2. Developing Images. Childhood, Sexual Abuse, and Contemporary Political Subjectivities. Sexuality: Contested Relationships around the control of Desire and Action. Appealing and Appalling Children. Part 3. International Development. Beyond the Baby and the Bathwater: Postdualist Developmental Psychologies for Diverse Childhoods. Developing Differences: Gender, Childhood and Economic Development. The Abnormal Distribution of Development: Policies for Southern Women and Children. Part 4. After-Words: What Follows Post-Development? Rhetorics of Psychological Development: From Complicity to Resistance. Between Two Debts: Points of Suspension in Childhood and Economic Development. Between Two Deaths: Reconfiguring Metaphorics and Ethics of childhood. References.
Erica Burman is Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is an internationally reknown researcher, teacher and activist, as well as group analyst, bringing critical methodological and interpretive resources for the re-evaluation of the uses of developmental psychology in health and educational contexts and social policy. Her work supports critical and reflexive professional practice with and for women and children.