Home - Scientific Commissions - the Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood

Commission on:
Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood


Deepak Kumar Behera

Deputy chair:

Dwiti Vikramaditya

*Inter-Congress Web-site: http://www.kiit.ac.in/iuaes2012.html


The Commission on Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood was proposed by Professor Deepak Kumar Behera at the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences at a meeting of the Executive Committee at the Beijing Inter-Congress in July 2000. The Commission was officially recognized and its work ratified by the Permanent Council of the IUAES at the Göttingen Inter-Congress on 19 July 2001.

The IUAES Commission on Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood has come together to promote a number of guiding ideals. One of our initial and most important aims is to encourage research about children in which children are themselves active participants as opposed to being just objects of study as they were most often in the past if, that is to say, they were studied at all. Close scrutiny of numerous well-known anthropological studies over several decades would reveal the notable absence of children. Why did anthropologists not take children and their childhoods seriously? Why were children missing from the ethnographic literature? Why did children's voices remain silent in anthropology?

In recent years a growing number of researchers have either studied childhood or included children in their broader descriptions of society.  Studies today show how children make meaning for themselves by bringing their own unique forms of agency into being. Instead of relying on adult-imposed meanings of childhood, as anthropologists we need to continue to give due attention to children as social actors in their own right, actively producing their own worlds while recognizing the multiple constraints within which their agency takes place.  Though youth has generally fared better (although often represented by studies of youth movements, youth culture and complementary topics such as the influence of music, fashion, drugs and so on) much work also needs to be done in relation to young people as well. Anthropology and anthropologists have much to offer to the study of children, childhood and youth and the Commission is fully committed to advancing this goal.

The Commission organizes a variety of events which bring together anthropologists and other scholars who work with children and youth and publishes scholarly work in a variety of formats including books, edited volumes and special issues of journals.


The following are the newly elected office bearers of the IUAES Commission on Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood for the period 2013-2018:

Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Dept. of Anthropology, Sambalpur University, Sambalpur-768019, Odisha, India (Chair)
Professor Spyros Spyrou, Cyprus, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, European University Cyprus, Cyprus (Deputy Chair)

Dr. Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg, Lecturer, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tuebingen, Schloss Hohentuebingen, 72070 Tuebingen, Germany (Treasurer)

Dr. Sudip Datta Banik, Dept. of Human Ecology, Cinvestav-Merida, Mexico (Executive Member)

Professor Gariele Alex, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tuebingen, Schloss Hohentuebingen, 72070 Tuebingen, Germany (Executive member)

Professor Anand Singh, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa (Executive Member)

Ms Anandini Dar, PhD Candidate, Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, USA (Executive Member)

Professor Lucia Rabello de Castro, Professor of Child and Youth Development, Institute of Psychology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Executive member)

Professor Véronique Pache Huber, Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland (Executive Member)


Selected papers presented at the 2012 Inter-Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) titled “Children and Youth in a Changing World” (held at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, November 26-30, 2012) will be published in an upcoming volume of the Oriental Anthropologist journal.

The Commission has so far published the following:

Studies of Integrated Holistic Programmes with Children and Youth No. 1, January 2002: An Assessment of Knowledge and Practice in Achieving the Rights of the Child, the ESCOR Team, Katmandu, New York and Florence.

The first issue of the series dedicated to studies of programmes with children, presents findings of an ESCOR team research on child labour in Nepal. It focuses on children's experience of their work in the carpet industry and on collaborative actions between organizations. The research includes children as researchers as well as members of different organizations working in the field of child labour. This action research project presents innovative strategies that encourage organizational collaboration, their awareness of children's experiences and their knowledge of the impact of different types of intervention on children's lives. Findings illustrate the complexity of the child labour phenomenon, whereby the physical and psychosocial impact of labour on children cannot be measured without including elements of children's experience such as migration, network and family support, self-esteem and comparative opportunities for children in the carpet industries, their community of origin, etc. Migration and employment in the carpet industry appears to lead to a diversity of experiences and outcomes for children that are worth examining when planning projects. Recommendations are formulated both at the organizational and programme level. For the programmes with children, recommendations include promoting child-to-child advocacy, more flexible education opportunities, vocational training as well as services to adult and children employees.

Special Issue: 'Children and Childhood in Metropolitan Cultures' in International Journal of Anthropology, 15 (2-3), April-September 2001.The papers in the special issue of International Journal of Anthropology are as follows:

Children's Use of Space, Editor Prof. Karen Malone (Department of School and Early Childhood Education, RMIT University, Bundoora, Melbourne Australia). The volume includes some of the selected papers of the Florence Conference (Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, 2006)
Childhoods in South Asia, Editor Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Pearson Education, New Delhi/Singapore 2007). The issue includes some of the selected papers of the Kolkata Inter-congress.


Inter-Congress of International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (2012)
The 2012 Inter-Congress of International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) on "Children and Youth in a Changing World" was held at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar during November 26-30, 2012. It was jointly organized by the IUAES Commission on Anthropology of Children, Youth and Childhood and the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, KIIT University. Three hundred participants from 47 different countries attended the inter-congress. The 2012 IUAES Inter-Congress was the largest conference on "Anthropology of Childhood" in the history of India.

16th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (2008)
July 15-23, 2008, Venue: Kunming, China

For this Congress the Commission's organized six sessions as follows:

Kolkota Inter-Congress (2004)
The IUAES Inter-Congress was held in Calcutta during 12-15 December, 2004. The theme of the Inter Congress was "Mega Urbanization, Multi-ethnic society, Human Rights and Development". The Commission organized three sessions during the Kolkata Inter-congress. Participants from UK, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and India presented their papers in the following Commission sessions:

15th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES) (2003)
The major Congress with the theme Humankind/ Nature Interaction: Past, Present, and Future was held in Florence, Italy during July 5-12, 2003. The Commission organised the following sessions at the Florence Congress.

The major findings of all the Commission's sessions were reported to all the participants of the Congress by Professor D.K. Behera and Professor Cristina Szanton Blanc in a special session arranged by the organizers on the penultimate day of the conference.
The business meeting of the Commission held in Florence was attended by participants from more than 20 countries. Many important decisions were taken by the members relating to the future plans of the Commission.

Tokyo Inter-Congress (2002)
The IUAES Inter-Congress on The Human Body in Anthropological Perspective was held in Tokyo from 22-27 September, 2002. Prof. D.K Behera organized a symposium entitled "Children and Youth at Risk" during the Inter-congress. The symposium had the following sub-themes:

1. Multiple Compounded Forms of Abuse to Children

2. Street and Working Children: Situation Research and Policy Issue

Participants from India, USA, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Guatemala, Croatia, Nepal, Iran and other countries presented their papers in the aforesaid symposium.

A business meeting attended by the representatives of the above-mentioned countries was organized on 27th September 2002. In the said meeting the past activities of the Commission were reviewed by the members and many important resolutions were taken for making the Commission more active and productive in the future.

Post-Congress Symposium in Tokyo (2002)
A post-congress symposium on the Holistic and Integrated Debate on Children and Youth was organized by the Commission together with the Anthropological Society of Nippon at Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo on 28 September 2002 between 0900 and 1700. Professor Kumi Ashizawa and Professor Cristina Szanton Blanc joined Professor Deepak Kumar Behera as co-organizers of the post-congress symposium. One of the major objectives of this session was to inform Japanese anthropologists about the Commission's activities and future plans.

Beijing Inter-Congress (2000)
In July 2000, the Commission on Children, Childhood and Youth began its work most promisingly. We met in Beijing, China, at an Inter-Congress hosted by the China Urban Anthropology Association during July 24-28, 2000. The Inter-Congress theme was Metropolitan Ethnic Cultures. The Commission organized a tripartite session on Children and Childhoods in Metropolitan Ethnic Cultures at the Inter-congress. The panel was organized by Dr Deepak Kumar Behera, the Chair of the Commission, who brought childhood specialists from different parts of the world to present their work.  The session mainly focused upon the world's less fortunate children: those who must work to ensure their family’s survival, those who live amidst great violence and danger, those who live in deep poverty, those displaced by warfare, those for whom social upheaval has delivered hardship and those who are undervalued purely by dint of being children. The session also highlighted the courage and creativity of children facing many kinds of challenges, changes and new fortunes. Participants from UK, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Nepal, Croatia and Austria presented papers in the session.

The first business meeting of the Commission, held on July 28, 2000 in Beijing, was attended by representatives from 18 countries. Members present at the meeting signed up to organize country chapters after the ratification of the Commission by the Permanent Council of IUAES.

A special issue of the International Journal of Anthropology (that comes out from Florence) containing some of the selected papers of the Commission's session at the Beijing Inter-congress was published in June 2001.

The Commission was one of the patrons of the international conference on Children and Young People in a Changing World held in Agrigento (Sicily) during June 9-16, 2000. The members of the Organizing committee met at the Agrigento conference to draw the Commission's agenda of activities for the future.

The Commission also had a business meeting during the conference with a large turn-out of people from all over the world eager to join and contribute to its work. Some well-known biological anthropologists attended the meeting and we are pleased to say that the Commission benefited from their interest. Since childhood and youth are as much physical processes as social conditions and cultural categories, the study of childhood and youth promises to be an interesting area for cooperation between biological and social anthropologists.