CfP: Childhood in 20th Century History. The Italian Case

Call for papers, deadline 30 November 2020

Starting from the new century, Italian historical studies on childhood in the 20th Century have known a growing, although not systematic, attention. Research has focused on some significant issues, such as wars, fascism, or the Shoah; or on transversal issues such as welfare or school and educational policies. A not secondary role has been played by the publishing industry thanks to the publication of memories and diaries by those experienced, during their childhood, central events of the 20th Century, first of all the World Wars and racial persecution. Moreover, sources produced directly from childhood (especially writing and drawing) have a significant role - also thanks to pedagogical, psychological and literary studies - in leaving behind the idea of boys and girls as marginal and passive actors in historical processes, and in enhancing, on the contrary, their point of view, actions and choices. At the same time, issues and problems related to childhood history are gradually being incorporated into high school and university teaching.

Therefore, a corpus of interests and studies has been delineated. However, the irregular trajectory that still characterized it requires a methodological and conceptual review. More specifically, we refer to some issues which concern (and also highlight) the interdisciplinary dimension of these studies: the definition of childhood, as the result of a complex intertwining of cultural construction, identity, age, historical and geographical context, etc.; categories and interpretative keys that can help understand an integrate the narration of children as historical and social protagonists; identification of reliable sources as well as of the analytical and interdisciplinary tools to carry out a solid criticism of the sources themselves; historical issues and circumstances which have been significant in fostering discussion of the role of children, as well as of their choices and memories; redefinition, in a gender framework, of childrens’  image and identity, strongly marked by male protagonism, roles and practices.

These are only some of the possible issues and approaches explored by historians, and through which new research trajectories could be identified and investigated. There is indeed a need for a more general reflection on the discipline and its sources. Starting from these assumptions, the monographic issue intends focusing on transitions and issues that are, in our opinion, essential (although not exclusive) and that could significantly weave together historical events and processes, methodology and sources. Articles should be related to the Italian history in the 20th Century, but comparative or transnational contributions will be considered as well. We are particularly interested in proposals focused on (but not necessarily limited to) the following research axes:

  • Sources for the history of childhood
  • Memory and representation
  • Childhood and gender
  • Vulnerable childhood
  • Children as victims, actors, spectators

Submission guidelines 

Articles will compose a monographic issue of the journal Italia Contemporanea (

Abstracts (2,500-3,000 characters) could be written in Italian, English or French. Proposals, accompanied by a short CV of the author, shall be sent to the editors Silvia Inaudi and Bruno Maida (

by November 30, 2020.

Selected articles (about 60,000 characters) shall be sent in their final form by May 31, 2021. Contribution in English or French written by non-Italian authors will be accepted and translated for the purpose of the publication. Articles will undergo an editorial evaluation and a double-blind peer review.