“Ours” or “Theirs”: Locating the “Criminal Child” in Relation to Education in the Postcolonial Context of India

  • Chandni Basu
Part of the Palgrave Studies on Children and Development book series (PSCD)


An engagement with social investigation reports of apprehended legal minors within the Indian juvenile justice system draws our attention to the social profiles of these young people. It raises the contention of a direct correlation between social marginality and deviance along with its association with the conception of modern childhood. A historical contextualization puts into perspective the juxtapositions of childhood and colonialism as simultaneous projects of modernity, over large parts of the nineteenth century. The resonance of this in contemporary times relates to the universal standardization drive of childhood along with practices like the school-based model of education. This chapter poses a challenge to the normative ethic of modern childhood, the standardization of which results in increasing criminalization of boys from marginal social locations within contemporary Indian society.



I wish to thank all research participants whose cooperation enabled me to collect information in West Bengal, India. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the students in the Master’s course, “Childhood and Postcoloniality”, organized, in the summer semester of 2017, at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany. The lively discussions in class enabled me to further reflect upon the topic of childhoods in postcolonial societies. The study on which this chapter is based was funded by: the Indian Council of Social Science Research; Erasmus Mundus Doctoral Scholarship (EMECW13); Fellowship, Ministry of Education and Research, Germany; and Completion Scholarship for doctoral candidates, State Law on Graduate Funding, Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Germany. I also thank Amitangshu Acharya and the editors of this volume for their valuable feedback on previous versions of this chapter.



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chandni Basu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of SociologyAlbert-Ludwigs-University of FreiburgFreiburg im BreisgauGermany

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