Gränsland Konstruktion av tidig barndom och begravningsritual vid tiden för kristnandet i Skandinavien
Sammanfattning: This thesis explores the process of Christianisation in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia through the social constructions of infancy and the beginnings of human life, as expressed in the ideals and practices seen in written and archaeological evidence.‘Childhood’ is regarded as a social construction defined by, and therefore also reflecting, contemporary society. Christianisation is seen as a process, heterogeneous in time, space and manifestations. A point of departure has been to approach each piece of evidence as a closed phenomenon comparable only to itself. This approach has been particularly relevant when examining syncretic burial customs.The emerging Christian institutions provided alternatives to the pre-Christian perceptions of birth control and initiating passage rites, most strikingly expressed in the criminalising of infanticide and the introduction of infant baptism. In this thesis, the strategies, processes and ideological foundations behind these changes are investigated and understood in terms of agency, ideal and practice. The results demonstrate that the process of social change brought by Christianisation was expressed in conservative, innovative as well as conciliatory fashions.It is argued that initiation rituals as well as regulations on child abandonment and burial practices were strategic tools used to modify the central aspects of the Viking-Age perception of infancy. Traces of conflict or conciliation are primarily found in issues relating to children as agents of the family and inheritance lines, which suggest that the ongoing establishment of the Church in some respects challenged the traditional autonomy of the households.
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