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Discourses of Choice and Experiences of Constraint

Analyses of Girls' Use of Violence

Marion Brown

Girls who use violence are marginalized as the worst of the mean girls, disrupting conventional femininity codes and causing panic in the streets. Twenty two girls participated in a qualitative study in Nova Scotia about what it means to be a girl and use violence. Interpretations presented here suggest that their reasoning can be contextualized through an analysis of neoliberalism, racism, heterosexism and classism, as they navigate discourses of choice and experiences of constraint.

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Carrie A. Rentschler and Claudia Mitchell

Girlhood Studies scholars respond to an overwhelming portrayal of girls as either bad or needing rescue in, for example, mainstream films on mean girls, popular psychology texts on primarily light-skinned middle class girls’ plummeting self-esteem, and media panics about teen girl sexting. According to Sharon Mazzarella and Norma Pecora, “In response to public anxiety and cultural fascination,” in “academic studies of girls…the emphasis has shifted slightly so that the discourse is no longer linked primarily to crisis” (2007: 105). Still, in popular and policy discourse today, girls are often unfairly and inaccurately cast as either super agents or failing subjects.

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Visible on Our Own Terms

Evoking Girlhood Self-Images Through Photographic Self-Study

Rosalind Hampton and Rachel Desjourdy

Photographic self-study can promote professional growth and deepen analysis of how girlhood experiences such as those related to ability, class, gender, and race are conditioned by and inform our multiple, shifting identities as women. This article presents excerpts from three women's experiences of photographic self-study, highlighting the possibilities of this method as a malleable, feminist approach to critical reflexive practice. Our stories demonstrate how a creative process of self-interpretation, self-representation, and self-knowing can draw oppressive categories of self-identification-carried from girlhood-to the surface and expose them to critique and deconstruction.

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Florian Berding and Ilka Lau

Epistemic beliefs are individuals’ beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Research assumes that epistemic messages embedded in learning materials shape learners’ beliefs. In order to provide information about these epistemic messages, this article analyzes 4,169 accounting exercises and 1,265 marketing exercises found in training textbooks for retailers, wholesalers, bank assistants, and industrial business management assistants. A latent class analysis identifies four types of exercises. The findings indicate that most epistemic messages emphasize knowledge that consists of stable, interconnected elements that are not useful for professional situations. Knowledge is transmitted by an authority and does not need to be justified. This article provides ideas on the basis of which exercises in textbooks may be revised.

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Dafna Lemish and Shiri Reznik

This study explores gender differences in the roles of humor in the lives of Israeli children. Thirty-four Jewish middle-class Israeli children, sixteen girls and eighteen boys, aged between eight to ten years, were interviewed in focus groups in which they discussed a variety of humorous video segments, jokes, and everyday humor. The analysis suggests that humor in interaction is a highly gendered process in this age group and is employed differently by boys and girls to perform their gendered identities. Girls engaged much less in sexist and aggressive humor and clearly used it to maintain their separateness from boys and younger children. We conclude that humor provides us with another avenue through which to unveil the complicated processes of gender construction in pre-adolescent childhood, while demonstrating at the same time the ambivalence and complexity involved in these processes.

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Pathologizing Latinas

Racialized Girlhood, Behavioral Diagnosis, and California's Foster Care System

Isabella C. Restrepo

Scholars of the welfare system have explored the racialized criminalization of mothers of color who are punished by the foster care system, through control of their children, when they are unable to meet the ideals of middle-class motherhood but have yet to fully articulate a language to understand the ways in which this criminalization and punishment extends to youth once they are placed in the foster care system. Using ethnographic interviews with agents of the care system, I explore the ways in which the system pathologizes Latinas’ quotidian acts of resistance and survival like their use of silences through the behavioral diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). I argue that California’s foster care system is an arm of the transcarceral continuum, marking girls of color and their strategies of resistance as pathological, thereby criminalizing them through the diagnosis of behavioral disorders.

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Conceptions of Nation and Ethnicity in Swedish Children's Films

The Case of Kidz in da Hood (Förortsungar, 2006)

Anders Wilhelm Åberg

Swedish children's films frequently deal with issues of nation and ethnicity, specifically with “Swedishness”. This may be most obvious in films based on the works of Astrid Lindgren, which abound with nostalgic images of the national culture and landscape. However, films about contemporary Sweden, such as Kidz in da Hood (Förortsungar, 2006) address these issues too. Kidz in da Hood is about children in the ethnically diverse suburbs of Stockholm and it tells the story of a young fugitive, Amina, who is cared for by a young bohemian musician. It is, interestingly, a remake of one of the first Swedish children's films, Guttersnipes (Rännstensungar, 1944). In this article I argue that Kidz in da Hood is a contradictory piece, in the sense that it both celebrates and disavows “Swedishness”, as it substitutes the class conict of Guttersnipes for ethnic conflict.

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A Tribute to Jackie Kirk

Activist, Academic and Champion of Girls

Claudia Mitchell and Jacqui Reid-Walsh

In September, 2008, a month after Jackie Kirk’s untimely death in Afghanistan, Claudia organized a special gathering of her class on Women, Education and Development at McGill University. The gathering was made up of Claudia’s graduate students, a group of scholars, friends of Jackie’s, her parents and other relatives. The seminar was dedicated to Jackie—looking back, but also looking ahead to what could be done to keep alive the spirit and energy of her work across so many different aspects of education in post-conflict settings, women teachers as peacebuilders and girls’ education. Similarly, this issue offers a remembrance, a celebration, and a moving forward in relation her life and work.

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Jacqueline Reid-Walsh and Kirstin Bratt

Perhaps it is more obvious in the present day, surrounded as we are by cell phones and other electronic devices transmitting information and messages in images and words instantaneously, but for over a hundred years the lives of girls—middle class girls in particular—have been mediated to a large extent by the plethora of texts that surround them. These texts are largely fictional narratives in different formats such as novels, magazines, television shows and films, many of which appear as digital media. Some of these texts are composed by adults, often women, and are directed at girl readers and viewers in an effort to establish a direct or indirect pedagogical relationship with them. Then again, depending often on how fantasy and desire is constructed in the narrative, other texts have no apparent pedagogical function, serving instead as sites (some adult-sanctioned and some not) of escape from reality. Other texts are created by the girls themselves and are directed at members of their own age group either as texts of peer education or of entertainment.

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Elizabeth Dillenburg

S. E. Duff. 2015. Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhoods, 1860–1895. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

In Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhoods, 1860–1895 (hereafter Changing Childhoods), S. E. Duff explores shifting notions of childhood and, more specifically, the emergence of new ideas about white childhood in the Cape Colony, South Africa, during the late nineteenth century by examining various efforts to convert and educate children, especially poor white children, and improve their welfare. As indicated in the title, Changing Childhoods draws attention to the multiplicity of experiences of children who existed alongside each other in the Cape Colony and how they were shaped by a variety of factors, including religion, location, class, race, and gender. While many histories of childhood elide the experiences of boys and girls, Duff pays careful attention to the different constructions of girlhood and boyhood and how gender shaped the lives of boys and girls, men and women. Throughout the book, girls appear not as passive observers but as complex agents shaping and participating in broader social, political, cultural, and economic transformations in the Cape.