I just posted a short interview on the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past website with my PhD student Neha Dhavale researching infant and child growth during the intensification of agriculture in Southeast Asia:
To showcase the research and the multidisciplinary nature of SSCIP we will be featuring short interviews with our members. Our membership’s research covers a variety of approaches to the study of childhood in the past, from osteology, archaeology, history, literary studies, sociology, psychology and more, and includes all different time periods and places in the world. In these interviews we aim to cover the breadth of our members from postgraduate students to senior academics in the field.
Our first interviewee is Neha Dhavale, who is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Otago and has very recently joined the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your research?
For my PhD I am investigating childhood skeletal growth at the prehistoric site of Ban Non Wat, Northeast Thailand. I am interested in exploring the question of health change with the intensification of agriculture over the time period from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Infant and child growth is a particularly sensitive indicator of health or stress in the past of whole populations. The general bioarchaeological model of health change with the intensification of agriculture posits that there was deterioration in health over time. I am particularly interested in this research question as recent work by my supervisor (Sian Halcrow) and others have found that in Southeast Asia there is little evidence for deterioration in health during the intensification of agriculture.
Q. How did you get into your field of research and why?
As a part of my Master’s degree in Archaeology at Deccan College in Pune, India, I focused on assessing the health and disease of a medieval Indian skeletal sample from Hansi, North India. While assessing the children from this site, I developed an interest in exploring childhood health in prehistoric contexts.
Q. Why did you join SSCIP?
As a young researcher in the field of childhood bioarchaeology, membership of SSCIP provides me with a good platform to engage with scholars from different disciplines researching children.
I have already gained benefits from SSCIP through attending the recent ‘For the Love of Death’ conference, Philippines, which was partly sponsored by SSCIP (see previous story here). At the SSCIP session on the osteoarchaeology of juveniles, I had the opportunity to share my work with other academics researching children from archaeological contexts, and got very useful feedback from people in the field.
Q. What is on the future horizon for your research?
After I finish my doctoral study I intend to continue studying childhood health in the past. In particular I would like to explore how the changing social definition of childhood and cultural behaviour affected children in the past.