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Race, indigeneity and the Baden-Powell Girl Guides: Age, gender and the British world, 1908-1920

Race, indigeneity and the Baden-Powell Girl Guides: Age, gender and the British world, 1908-1920

Martin, Mary Clare ORCID: 0000-0002-3568-6423 (2015) Race, indigeneity and the Baden-Powell Girl Guides: Age, gender and the British world, 1908-1920. In: Robinson, Shirleene and Sleight, Simon, (eds.) Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood . Palgrave Macmillan UK, Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 161-182. ISBN 9781137489401

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This article examines the international reach, and levels of inclusiveness, of the Baden Powell Girl Guides from the formal establishment of the Boy Scout movement in 1908 to the end of the First World War. On the one hand, it shows how young women were able to exercise agency in the founding of new patrols and companies. It also analyses the differential inclusion of indigenous peoples within the ‘Global South’. Whereas in Malaysia, ethnically mixed companies were the norm, in some African countries, black girls were excluded. In India, however, both segregated and mixed companies existed. The First World War provided opportunities for girls of different races and ethnicities to contribute, not only through gendered activities, but to attain a new, public, role through performance and philanthropy.In contrast with recent representations of the largest youth movement of the twentieth century, as fundamentally exclusive, this article demonstrates the how differing levels of engagement of indigenous girls and young women.

This chapter originated in a paper presented to the Leverhulme Trust funded project "Approaching War: Childhood, Culture and the First World War", (2011-2013) which held conferences in Sydney, Toronto and Newcastle, UK. This was one of the first international projects to mark the centenary of the First World War. The author was invited to chair a discussion panel at the second conference, in Toronto, “in conversation” with two Canadian children's authors, Arthur Slade and Hugh Brewster (, as well as presenting at the Newcastle conference. I was also given a swathe of children's books published in Canada which have been used extensively in teaching Children's Literature to Greenwich students.


The volume in which the paper has been published derives from another international conference, "Children, Childhood and the British World", held at King's College London, in July 2013. The convenors and editors both have specialisms in Australian history: Simon Sleight is currently acting Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King's College, London, while Dr Shirleene Robinson is Vice-Chancellor's Innovation Fellow in History at Macquarie University in Sydney. The chapter authors are based in the US, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, and the volume marks the increased interest in the history of children in international context.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Girl Guides; Indigeneity; Race; Citizenship; Gender; Age
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Education (EDU)
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 13:20

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