The Archaeology of Childhood: Children, Gender, and Material Culture (Gender and Archaeology)

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9780759103320: The Archaeology of Childhood: Children, Gender, and Material Culture (Gender and Archaeology)

The study of children and childhood in historical and prehistoric life is an overlooked area of study that Jane Baxter addresses in this brief book. Her timely contribution stresses the importance of studying children as active participants in past cultures, instead of regarding them mainly for their effect on adult life. Using the critical concepts of gender and socialization, she develops new theoretical and methodological approaches for the archaeological study of this large but invisible population. Baxter presents examples from the analysis of toys, miniatures, and other objects traditionally associated with children, from the gendered distribution of activity space, from the remains of children-as-apprentices, and from mortuary evidence. Baxter's work will aid archaeologists bring a more nuanced understanding of children's role in the historical and archaeological record.

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About the Author:

Jane Eva Baxter is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and a member of the American Studies Program Committee at DePaul University in Chicago.

Review:

In this elegant book, Jane Baxter provides a manifesto for why archaeologists should care about children, and develops archaeological methodologies for studying childhood and children on their own terms. Drawing on developmental psychology, cultural anthropology, biology, and gender theory, Baxter constructs a general framework for understanding the socialization process, focusing on the various mechanisms through which cultural knowledge is transmitted and transformed. To these disciplinary perspectives, Baxter adds an interest in material culture and the patterned use and construction of space and place by children, to provide tools by which archaeologists can identify and examine this important and long-neglected segment of all human societies. This result is a work that should be read by all archaeologists and former children interested in understanding cultural transmission and social structures and processes. (Carla M. Sinopoli, Curator of Asian Archaeology, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan)

Baxter has written a concise and accessible introduction to the young field of archaeological research into childhood. Every archaeologist who has ever known or been a child should be able to find something worthwhile in this book, which contains both anthropologically important questions concerning childhood and a range of approaches by which those questions can be addressed via the archaeological record. (Robert W. Park, University of Waterloo)

This is a wide-ranging and useful survey of the material available for those who are interested in the archaeology of childhood, which leaves no excuses for future excavators to ignore the presence of large numbers of children on their sites. It summarizes various approaches to studying the material on children, and points out future directions for such studies. Its efficiency and compactness make it an essential addition to any archaeological library, institutional or persoanl. (Journal of Field Archaeology)

This recent addition to the Series is elegantly written in an accessbile style, and refreshingly, it displays none of the sentimentality that is sometimes associated with texts about children...An engrossing read. Baxter is to be congratulated for this well-researched and thought-provoking book. (South African Archaeological Bulletin)

The Archaeology of Childhood: Children, Gender, and Material Culture is a valuable addition to the growing corpus of literature that explores ways for archaeologists to incorporate past children and childhood into their research. Baxter provides a particularly comprehensive and up-to-date review of the existing archaeological and cultural research. (Kathryn Kamp, Grinnell College)

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