On children, infantilisation, and colonialism and settler colonialism: Toby Rollo, ‘Why is the Child Crying? Abolition, Decolonization, and the Ontological Misfortune of Childhood’, 2015
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that the enduring figure of the child, understood as a subhuman animal, is the foundation upon which European slavery and colonialism themselves are rooted. In the first section, I show that the colonial structures of social death and violence exacted on black (and also native) peoples are instantiations of the Hellenistic/Christian/Enlightenment subjugation of children. In the formation of the European worldview, the figure of the child features as the ontological Other for whom violence and subjugation are the natural condition. Modelling the peoples of Africa and North America after the irrational, criminal, and sub-human child made possible the institutions of slavery and settler colonialism that advanced into modernity. In the second section, I show that it was not until the late 19th century that western societies began sparing their young from the violence of childhood, usually by positioning children — white youth — as partially benefitting from the mature and therefore fully-human legacy of European civilization. Black and native peoples, on the other hand, remain globally prefigured as children. As a consequence, Black and native youth remain condemned to the status of bestial child from which white children have been partially removed.
Filed under: Uncategorized |