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  1. Visual cultures of foundling care in Renaissance Italy

    Presciutti, Diana Bullen
    Farnham, Surrey, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, [2015]

    The social problem of infant abandonment captured the publica (TM)s imagination in Italy during the fifteenth century, a critical period of innovation and development in charitable discourses. As charity toward foundlings became a political priority, the patrons and supporters of foundling hospitals turned to visual culture to help them make their charitable work understandable to a wide audience. Focusing on four institutions in central Italy that possess significant surviving visual and archival material, Visual Cultures of Foundling Care in Renaissance Italy examines the discursive processes through which foundling care was identified, conceptualized, and promoted. The first book to consider the visual culture of foundling hospitals in Renaissance Italy, this study looks beyond the textual evidence to demonstrate that the institutional identities of foundling hospitals were articulated by means of a wide variety of visual forms, including book illumination, altarpieces, fresco cycles, institutional insignia, processional standards, prints, and reliquaries. The author draws on fields as diverse as art history, childhood studies, the history of charity, Renaissance studies, gender studies, sociology, and the history of religion to elucidate the pivotal role played by visual culture in framing and promoting the charitable succor of foundlings.

  2. In Absence and from Transference: Adoption, Abandonment, and Uneasy Familial Bonds in the Chinese Tradition

    Susman, Lily Amelia
    August 27, 2021; August 15, 2021

    Since the People’s Republic of China opened for international adoption in the early 1990s, a great deal of scholarship has been produced regarding the One-Child Policy and overseas Chinese adoptees. Rather than looking at the contemporary world, this project is concerned with the topics of adoption and child abandonment in premodern Chinese culture and society. It asks: what did it mean to be an adoptee or “rejected” child in “traditional” China? To understand the realities of these two distinct (though at times overlapping) groups, I examine how obtaining and dismissing descendants functioned as a custom intended to protect the family as a unit. Further, the conceptual, ethical, gendered, and symbolic dimensions of these practices are explored: male adoptees occupied an ambiguous and tenuous position in their families, society, and Confucian orthodoxy, while stories of abandoned children were utilized as cultural tropes and for moral instruction. This sociocultural and historical study is also accompanied by an analysis of the development of welfare institutions and programs for needy populations during Ming-Qing China. Created in response to heightened attention on infanticide (particularly female infanticide) as well as specific crises, child relief efforts changed adoption procedures, gave rise to novel "adoptive" relationships, and presented opportunities for domestic and foreign benefactors to impose their own values onto family-less Chinese children.

  3. Abandoned children

    Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    The situation of children abandoned by adults, in foundling homes, sleeping rough in the streets, in refugee camps, and in other circumstances, attracts much political and journalistic attention, but surprisingly little from social scientists. As the editors of this volume point out, there is therefore not enough said about the varieties of experiences summarised as 'abandonment'. Nor has enough effort been put into studying the perspectives of children themselves on their situation. Situating the discourse on child abandonment in the more general field of debate on children, both historical and ethnographic, this book attempts to show that the presentations of 'abandoned' children tend to take for granted ethnocentric ideas about what children can and should do, and about what their relationship should be with adults. The range of historical and ethnographic case studies, over a variety of situations, illustrate the need to contextualise their position in particular cultural situations.


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