Workshop: Meeting Children’s Needs, Worrying for the Young, Caring for the Old -- Papers

We are delighted to share some of the papers given at the international workshop Meeting Children’s Needs, Worrying for the Young, Caring for the Old: Intersecting Historical Approaches of Age-based Welfare in 20th Century Europe. The workshop took place at the Historical Archive of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens on 18 March 2022. It was co-organised by the Section of History, Department of History and Archaeology, NKUA, and “Who Cares in Europe?”

Efi Avdela & Dimitra Lampropoulou‘s paper Meeting children’s needs? Entangled aspects of the mixed economy of welfare in post-war Greece explores “the social provisions undertaken by both the Greek government and private or ‘semi-state’ initiatives in order to meet the urgent needs of Greek children, from the late 1940s to the early 1970s”. In the paper, Efi and Dimitra argue that these provisions “constitute a marker for the idiosyncratic version of the mixed economy of welfare that characterised post-war Greece”.

Laura Lee Downs‘s paper When Social Welfare Became a Bordering Practice: Marking new national frontiers in the Upper Adriatic borderland: Elena d’Aosta’s Opera patriottica di Assistenza all’Italia Redenta, 1919-1950 is drawn from her ongoing research on gender, social action, and politics in the northeastern Adriatic borderlands from ca. 1890 to the end of the 1970s, as it is unfolding in the context of her larger ERC project “Sociobord”. In her paper, she focusses on the early years (1919-24) of the association Opera Assistenza all’Italia Redenta (1919-1978) and, more in particular, on “the important, yet strangely understudied, nationalist mobilization of a small team of Italian nurses who were called by their colleague, the Duchessa Elena d’Aosta, to participate in her post-war project of humanitarian assistance to the upper Adriatic border region, which she initiated in the immediate aftermath of World War One”. Laura Lee Downs uses “this exceptionally rich case study to explore how new borders and a new political order immediately manifested themselves in local welfare provision”. 

Maria Papathanassiou‘s paper Beyond the welfare state: Some notes on child- and elderly care in rural Austria during the first decades of the 20th century explores “some aspects of child and elderly care in rural Austria during the first decades of the twentieth century (up to the mid-1930s and the rise of the Austro-fascist regime to power).” By looking into rural Austria, Maria argues that while “initiatives and decisions on welfare activities and practices were taken primarily in urban administrative centers, […] the most impressive welfare activities developed in cities and towns, where population was concentrated, and poverty became much more visible, […] European rural societies, too, took care of the poor, the weak, the physically and/or mentally impaired, the vulnerable, or those considered vulnerable due to negative circumstances, as well as to the very young or those of old age”.

Pat Thane‘s paper Care for and by older people in Britain past and present explores the role of British families in giving care to older people today. While “it is often said in Britain that in ‘the past’ families always lived with and looked after older relatives, but in the busy modern world they neglect them and dump them in care homes”, Pat demonstrates that “there is strong evidence that British families – mainly women in families – give more care to older people than in the past and at least as much as in other countries”.