Farm Workers Picking Oranges

Graduate Student Profiles

Kyle David

Cohort Year: 2014
B.A., University of Florida, English 2005
M.A., Heilongjiang University (PRC), History 2014

Curriculum Vitae

Advisor: Jeffery Wasserstrom and Emily Baum
First Field: Modern China/East Asian History
Second Field: World History
Thematic Emphasis: Children and childhood in the twentieth century; uniformed youth movements

Dissertation Title:

Research Abstract:

My dissertation examines global youth militarization from the end of the first world war through the completion of the second, with an emphasis on young children living in Chinese Communist-held areas. By viewing militarization not only as a mechanism that prompted children to enlist in military service, but also as tropes employed by society to help children understand war and their place in it, I historicize the development of the Communist Children's League—an organization that orchestrated the daily lives of children aged seven to fifteen—within the context of interwar globalization, national revolution, and world-wide conflict.

I engage with the growing body of literature that uses age as a category of historical analysis. While age is more mutable and less encompassing of our identities, like gender it has performative, institutional, symbolic, subjective, and normative functions. Like gender, age is also a social construct with historic variability across geographic and temporal boundaries. As a category of analysis, age possesses its own unique perspectives. It reinforces a system of power relationships and carries with it, in the case of children, assumptions of immaturity, irresponsibility, and incomplete development, or, in the case of the elderly, enfeeblement, decrepitude, and loss of virility and fertility. That most historians today would agree that including gender in our historical narratives is imperative, the same is not yet said about age.