International Workshop: Inter-discipIinary Approaches to the Lives of Infants and Children in Past and Present Urban Communities

19 September 2019, 9.00 AM - 20 September 2019, 6.00 PM

Room 4.10, Education School, University of Bristol, 35 Berkeley Square

An urban way of life is one of the fundamental features of the modern world and sustainable urban development is a declared priority of the United Nations. At the same time, UNICEF and most National Health Services prioritize breastfeeding and children’s health and well-being as the most cost-effective way to support healthier individuals, stronger families and ultimately sustainable economic growth. However, urbanization and infancy/childhood have rarely been studied in connection or seen as linked issues.

Recent directions in different disciplines such as history, archaeology, classics on the one hand and psychology, medicine and health science on the other hand show that an intimate behaviour such as infant and child rearing can influence the prosperity and the survival of communities and indeed of the whole society. Also, the developing of cities and urban societies had dramatic consequences on the cognitive and learning patterns of children with potentially enduring consequences up to now.

This workshop will include short presentations on the following:

  1. The connection between urban environments and the cognitive development  of children also in relation to technological innovation and density of agglomeration in the past and in the present;
  2. Potential, biases and future perspective of bio-molecular archaeology to assess breastfeeding duration, weaning age and complete cessation of breastfeeding in past-populations;
  3. Potential link between signs of nutritional stress, infant feeding patterns and children health in the past in order to help health professional and practitioners today (such as for example the ALSPAC community in Bristol) to inform new strategies for data collection and future research activity;
  4. Relationship between infant feeding patterns/female fertility and children mortality rates and its consequences on the demographic composition and ultimately the survival of a community both in the past and today;
  5. New perspectives, challenging traditional scholarship, about motherhood, infancy and infant feeding practiced derived both from traditional and new scientific approaches;
  6. Changing norms and belief about infancy/childhood, identity construction and personhood realization in different cultural and socio-political environments sometime also related to differences in status/hierarchical position of the individual or his family.

By touching upon these themes and welcoming new perspectives this workshop aims to compare past with present experiences of infancy/childhood in urban contexts. In this way it will seek to connect macro-historical processes such as “urbanization” and “acculturation” to micro-experiences of everyday life and show the effects of cultural and political environments on these practices and vice-versa. This will create a dialectic by which present experiences can inform our understandings of the past, and the past, with its long trajectory, can help model the future. By providing an arena for discussion and debate we hope to promote synergies among schools at Bristol, in the UK and internationally.

Workshop organised by: Francesca Fulminante, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Bristol, (francesca.fulminante@bristol.ac.uk); Paul A Howard-Jones, School of Education, University of Bristol (Paul.Howard-Jones@bristol.ac.uk)Jenny C. Ingram, Centre for Academic Child Health, University of Bristol (Jenny.Ingram@bristol.ac.uk)

Sponsored by: The Bioethic, Biolaw and Biosociety Research Strand of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and The Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition, University of Bristol; Design and Conference Logo by Yhoun-Seon

For more information and programme visit the workshop website.

Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii

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