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November 28 , 2009

Youth and Empire

Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia


This is the first study of its kind to provide such a broadly comparative and in-depth analysis of children and empire. Youth and Empire brings to light new research and new interpretations on two relatively neglected fields of study: the history of imperialism in East and South East Asia and, more pointedly, the influence of childhood—and children's voices—on modern empires.

By utilizing a diverse range of unpublished source materials drawn from three different continents, David M. Pomfret examines the emergence of children and childhood as a central historical force in the global history of empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This book is unusual in its scope, extending across the two empires of Britain and France and to points of intense impact in "tropical" places where indigenous, immigrant, and foreign cultures mixed: Hong Kong, Singapore, Saigon, and Hanoi. It thereby shows how childhood was crucial to definitions of race, and thus European authority, in these parts of the world. By examining the various contradictory and overlapping meanings of childhood in colonial Asia, Pomfret is able to provide new and often surprising readings of a set of problems that continue to trouble our contemporary world.

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