Child and Youth Health

This research theme turns the powerful lens of age upon health and medicine. It provides new analytical perspectives upon sickness, health and medicine by examining them in relation to ideas and lived experiences of childhood and youth. Children have long borne the brunt of disease, ill health and physical hardship in human history. Two thirds of all of gains in longevity ever made were achieved through the reduction of infant mortality in the last hundred years. Nevertheless, childhood and youth continue to be conceived of as essentially vulnerable life stages. Professional experts and the media pathologise child and youth behaviours and cultures. Those growing up are considered dangerous and endangered. Young people encounter distinctive risks, produced by disease epidemics, common illnesses and themselves.

Definitions and experiences of childhood and youth are integrally linked to ideas about medicine and health and this research theme advances the scholarly investigation of these interconnections. Foregrounding the lens of age, and emphasising comparative methodologies, it advances scholarship on accidents, disability and death, as well as encounters with regimens of health and medicine in the home and in institutions such as schools, clinics and workplaces. The extensive efforts to develop the sciences of childhood and the eventual emergence of pediatrics and psychological studies of childhood and youth are important themes for discussion.

Medical and welfare initiatives directed toward children and youth shaped modern western understandings of health, medical and welfare provision, and of the modern and the traditional. Recognition of the right of the young to medical protection also played into ongoing colonial contests and evolving notions of the nation, emerging as a core benchmark of civilised society. This cluster taps into the rich potential offered by the analysis of childhood, youth, medicine and health to advance scholarship in the humanities in vital new directions.


CHM co-sponsors a panel on 'Children and Colonial Relations: Vectors, "Vaccines" and Points of Contact,' as part of the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth Annual Conference at UBC Vancouver, British Columbia (24 June 2015)


Past Activities:

The Child and Youth Health research strand sponsored two panels at this year's biennial conference of the Society for the History of Children and Youth, Columbia University, New York, June 23-25, 2011.
The panels were as follows:
'Colonial Children and The Institution: Processing Subjects, Producing Subjectivities' and 'Children, Youth and traumatic experiences'.

For all enquires please contact Dr David Pomfret.