Agents of Future Promise

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Wellcome Library, London

Wellcome Library, London


Still from Humphrey Jennings’ ‘A Diary for Timothy’









In recent history, children have often been used to represent a particular future. Because of their apparent innocence and their potential as future citizens, children are positioned as ‘carriers’, or ‘agents of future promise’ – encapsulated in the phrase ‘children are the future’. But what does that mean?

Agents of Future Promise was a research project exploring how, why and with what effects children have been ideologically used in modern British and French history. It was funded by the AHRC Care for the Future programme.

To find out more about what emerged from the project, you can read our articles:

Lindsey Dodd, ‘”Mon petit papa chéri”: children, fathers and family separation in Vichy France’, Essays in French Literature and Culture, 54 (2017), pp. 97-116.

Lindsey Dodd, ‘Children’s citizenly participation in the National Revolution: the instrumentalization of children in Vichy France’, European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire 24:5 (2017), pp. 759-80

Laura King, ‘Future Citizens: Cultural and Political Conceptions of Children in Britain, 1930s-1950’, Twentieth Century British History 27:3 (2016), pp. 389-411

This archived site also has a blog, information about the background and aims of the project and our team.

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