notes for a political-school representation of childhood in nineteenth century in chile




19th century childhood, sarmiento, school apparatus, culture, politic


In this paper, we propose to investigate one common adult representation of childhood that will serve both to reflect on and to problematize current and varied representations. As such, our object of study will always be a representation and not a substantialist definition. We propose to analyze the adult concept “child” from a critical perspective by reviewing it through a historical lens—that is, as it is expressed in the political and educational world of 19th century Chile, which, in turn, we can glimpse in the historical writings of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. To carry out this journey, we propose three guiding thematic axes: 1) how all school apparatuses embody, configure and assume a certain identifiable representation of “child’ and childhood; 2) an analysis of the characteristics and objectives of the 19th century Chilean school apparatus, particularly in its function as a government device, or dispositif; 3) just how that dispositif becomes visible to inquiry in the historical record, particularly in what it can reveal to us about the image or images of childhood held by adults. To be understood by adults as a boy or a girl in Chile during that period is communicated in the historical record through a myriad of diverse sources, each requiring consideration in its context. Magazines, syllabaries, school textbooks and children's stories configure different perspectives on and attitudes toward childhood, which in turn are associated with the social origin of these documents and the purposes they embody. The images, ideas and signs of interaction that appear in these school documents act cumulatively to reveal a cultural image of “child” and aid us in understanding the political and socio-cultural significance attributed to that period in the human life-cycle. And while we cannot claim to have identified how all adults of 19th century Chile understood and represented childhood, such documents do offer insights into the beliefs and assumptions of the political and ruling classes

Author Biographies

juan pablo alvarez coronado, Autonomous University of Chile

Doctor in Moral and Political Philosophy
Associate Professor
Education deparment
Autonomous University of Chile

felipe roco zúñiga, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso

Doctoral student in Literature


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How to Cite

alvarez coronado, juan pablo, & roco zúñiga, felipe. (2023). notes for a political-school representation of childhood in nineteenth century in chile. Childhood & Philosophy, 19, 01–20.




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