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Still unknown and overlooked? Anthropologies of childhood and infancy in Southern Africa, 1995-2020

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Fiona Ross, Michelle Pentecost

Original languageEnglish
Accepted/In press13 Oct 2021
Published1 Nov 2021

King's Authors


In 1995, Pamela Reynolds published a stringent critique of the lack of attention to children in southern African Anthropology. ‘Not known because not looked for’ made a powerful case for careful and close attention to children’s worlds. Her diagnosis was terse; anthropology had not made sufficient theoretical inroads to understanding children and childhoods despite a research method that seemed custom-made for the task. Twenty-five years later, the picture has changed considerably, but there are still significant gaps, particularly in relation to babies and infancy. In this article, we offer an overview of developments in anthropological work and then suggest approaches for work with infants. The objective of such work is not simply to fill in missing gaps in knowledge, but to raise epistemological and methodological questions about how we come to know.

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