» Archive for: January, 2013

The 2013 annual conference (28-30 August) of the Royal Geographical Society with IBG is shaping up to include some interesting sessions concerning children and youth. Below three calls for papers:


Call for Papers, Royal Geographical Society with IBG Annual Conference, ‘New geographical frontiers’, London, 28-30 August 2013
Organised by Matt Benwell (Keele University) and Peter Hopkins (Newcastle University)

(Sponsored by the Geographies of Justice Research Group)

The lives of children and young people around the world are inextricably connected to geopolitical events and often receive considerable popular attention. The shooting of a 14-year-old activist campaigning for girls’ access to education in north-west Pakistan in October 2012 is a shocking reminder of how children and young people can be implicated in regional and global geopolitical disputes. Children here are not simply the victims of state and non-state violence but are active in the creation of ‘alternative geopolitics’ (Koopman, 2011). While events of this nature dominate media coverage, children and young people in less extreme situations are also engaging with geopolitics in diverse ways.

Geographers have started to shed light on how children and young people’s everyday lives are linked to distant geopolitical events (Hopkins, 2007; Hörschelmann, 2008; Pain et al., 2010). This work has not simply shown children and young people to be subjects or passive receptors of geopolitical discourses but as agents with informed and sophisticated perspectives (Benwell and Dodds, 2011). Notwithstanding this growing body of work, Skelton (2010) has suggested that the adult-dominated world of Political Geography continues to marginalise the ways in which children and young people play a part in geopolitics.

This existing work has explored the emotional geographies of global geopolitical events at the local scale, yet other scales have received far less attention including the regional and national (Hopkins and Alexander, 2010). How might children and young people engage with regional territorial disputes? Moreover, Harker (2011) has called for alternative approaches to geopolitical scholarship and associated understandings of power and violence by exploring, for example, family spaces and spacings in Palestine. How might we broaden understandings of what it means to ‘do geopolitics’ from a narrow focus on statecraft and elites to encompassing the actions of children, young people and families? These interventions hint at some of the potential directions for a critical geopolitics interested in the lives of children and young people.

This session is an opportunity to continue the dialogue between critical geopolitics and children’s and young people’s geographies to bring about a more variegated geopolitical scholarship (Harker, 2011). We seek contributions that engage with – but are not limited to – the following topics/issues:

• Children, young people and alter-geopolitics (e.g. non-violent geopolitics)
• Children, young people and popular geopolitics 2.0
• Diverse groups of children and young people’s engagements with geopolitical representation & practice
• Children and young people’s geopolitical engagement in diverse geographies: embodied, domestic, educational, urban, rural, national, regional and so on
• Researching geopolitical issues with children and young people
• Critical geopolitics, ethnography and participatory research
• Connections between critical geopolitics and emotional geographies of children and young people
• Children, young people and territorial nationalism (e.g. in Polar Regions)

Please email a 250 word abstract and/or expressions of interest to Peter Hopkins: Peter.Hopkins@newcastle.ac.uk by 1st February 2013.


session title: Migration, Mobility, Border Spaces and Affective Childhoods

Sponsored by the Children, Youth and Families Research Group and the Social
and Cultural Geography Research Group

Stuart C. Aitken and Sam Cortez

Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth ad Space (ISYS), San Diego
State University, California

This session explores how material borders and youthful mobilities give way
to young people’s experimentations with cultural, social and political
change.  We seek papers that highlight the capacities of children to
revolutionize thought and practice through creative re-imagining of
boundaries, borders, events, circumstances, and family and community

In what ways are child migration and mobility patterns changing?  How are
youthful mobilities contextualized by local and state violence? What
frontiers of youthful imaginations counteract these constraints and
contexts? In what ways do young people engage in political and civic life
and how do those practices shape policy making?  How are authoritarian
borders blurred or transgressed through youthful mobilities?  What are the
implications for citizenship?

What are the implications of these questions for geographers?  In what ways
should we be reconsidering spatial relations and the work of childhood?  What
kinds of policy interventions are apposite at this time?

Papers are invited on – but not limited to- the following themes:

*child mobility and child rights


*unaccompanied minors (independent child migrants)

*child mobility as a catalyst for  political change

*border spaces and revolutionary imaginations

*child labor and mobility

*migration and safety

*national policies on child movement and state violence

*child migration and citizenship

Please send title and abstract (c. 300 words) to Stuart C. Aitken, Center
for Interdisciplinary Studies of Youth and Space (ISYS), San Diego State
University, CA 92182, USA (saitken@mail.sdsu.edu) by Feb. 4, 2013


session title: Bridging the divide: Researching children/ young people and sexuality

Sponsored by the Space, Sexualities and Queer Research Group and the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group


Joe Hall (University of Hull)

Nelly Ali (Birkbeck)

The sub-fields of children’s and youth geographies and geographies of sexualities often deal with intersecting themes that cross-cut the (seemingly) mutually exclusive nature of these fields. In our proposed sessions we aim to bring these themes to the forefront and bridge the divide between these geographical sub-fields by prompting a stimulating discussion between children’s and youth geographers (and scholars of childhood and youth more broadly) and researchers of sexuality. We hope this long overdue interaction will kick start a rich and rewarding dialogue that may continue for years to come.

We are seeking abstracts for a methodologically focused paper session that we hope will address the practical aspects of conducting research with children/ young people around issues of sexuality. This may include papers given by early career researchers who have, or are about to explore a topic of sexuality with children/ young people in contrasting socio-cultural contexts. It may also include papers by experienced researchers who may be able to offer insight and practical advice for conducting ethically sound research with various types of children/ young people. We also welcome papers that explore innovative approaches to data collection and analysis.

Please submit proposed titles and abstracts of not more than 250 words to Joe Hall (j.j.hall@2005.hull.ac.uk) and Nelly Ali (nelly.ali@gmail.com) by 8 February 2013.

We plan for the paper session to be followed by a panel session of invited speakers who will provide more opportunity for discussion and exploration of these themes.

Session title: Geographies of Youth Work

Session Co-organisers:Matej Blazek (Loughborough University), Luke Dickens (Goldsmiths, University of London), Peter Kraftl (University of Leicester), Sarah Mills (Loughborough University)

Sponsored by: Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group

It is now a decade since Moss and Petrie (2002) called for creation of “social spaces for childhood, as part of life, not just preparation for life” (Moss and Petrie, 2002: 123 original emphasis) in response to the overwhelming neoliberalisation of policy directed towards the provision of children’s services. They argued for policy directed towards providing organic, everyday and creative ‘opportunity spaces’, “where new relationships, ways of being and new futures can be nurtured” (Percy-Smith, 2010: 116), and which are deemed essential for enabling children and young people to participate more holistically as citizens in wider society (see Hart, 1992, 2008; Jans, 2004; Moss and Petrie, 2002).  This session is interested in work that updates on the extent to which this vision for such spaces – and the broad range of ‘youth work’ behind creating and sustaining them – has been established through current policy and practice. In other words, this session seeks to ask – in an age of related crises, austerity measures and neoliberal imperatives, what are the frontiers of contemporary youth work?

Moreover, the present era is defined by youth work as a growing and diverse sector, entering into the lives of children, families, and communities in an increasing multitude of capacities. The establishment of such provision has occurred through a series of phases in response to state restructuring, and the impacts of economic and political crisis, where at different times various constellations of local authority, third sector and community agents have undertaken youth work. It is also increasingly clear that there is a long history of youth work extending beyond its formalised and defined conception, particularly through the pioneering work of the pre-welfare state organisations, institutions, community organisations and individuals (Mills, 2013). This session seeks responses that address this longer history, and to question what were the pedagogic, professional and scholarly frontiers that were addressed in the formulation of modern forms of youth work as a distinct practice/praxis.

At the heart of our interest here is an attempt to be clear on the purpose of youth work, who it is aimed at, what it is hoped to achieve, and, especially, where. Further, this line of enquiry implies a need to be clear on the definitions of ‘youth’ itself, and how the category of youth is understood and positioned within the social world. This requires exploring the policy imperatives that lie behind it (e.g. Kraftl et al., 2012). For example, the role of youth work has been marked by heated debates over the instrumental (undertaken to achieve goals) or intrinsic (as a benefit in and of itself) nature of youth work, a situation that has exposed many competing and conflicting agendas between those agents variously charged with undertaking youth work on or with the young. Current policy seeks to implement youth work within a context of reduced funding, and tends towards short-term ‘interventions’ targeted at disadvantaged young people. Is policy on youth work something that should follow such deficit models of social improvement of the disadvantaged, or can/should more holistic practices be undertaken with all young people?

Finally, we are interested in the practice of youth work, asking who does it, who is the subject of it, what is the practical, everyday nature of youth work and the how are the individual, embodied agendas behind it shaped (Blazek and Hraňová, 2012; Dickens and Lonie, in press). Alongside seeking to (re)define youth, this approach asks further questions of the spatialities, politics, power, and emotional labour involved in the development of youth/youth worker relationships. Much youth work has drawn on practices of mentoring, peer-learning and so on, which in turn raises the possibilities of young people themselves undertaking ‘youth work’.Youth workers are also leading proponents of participatory, inclusive and creative practices, thus offering fertile common ground with researchers with similar interests. What is the nature of this common ground, or what can youth workers and researchers interested in space, place and spatiality learn from each other? Indeed, given relatively little interaction between scholarship by geographers and youth work scholars/practitioners, what opportunities exist for the opening-up of new research agendas, theories and methodologies – new disciplinary frontiers – if these two disciplines were to engage in more sustained dialogue?

Papers are invited on these and other related topics, and may address the following themes in relation to youth work (albeit broadly conceived): 

  • Professional/informal
  • Intrinsic/instrumental
  • Practitioner/researcher
  • Child/youth/adult (life course, transitions, intergenerationality)
  • Past/present/future
  • Youth work policy/politics
  • Emotional, affective, everyday, and/or material constituents of youth work policy/practice
  • Youth work in different geographical contexts around the world
  • Youth work spaces beyond the local

We are very keen to accommodate alternative contributions, rather than just standard papers. We also wish to encourage participation from practitioners and other non-academics. There might be an opportunity to hold the session in an open space if there is enough interest. Please get in touch to discuss any of this.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words or any other ideas for contribution should be sent to Matej Blazek (m.blazek@lboro.ac.uk) and Luke Dickens (l.dickens@gold.ac.uk) by Thursday 7th February.


Blazek, M. and Hraňová, P. (2012) ‘Emerging relationships and diverse motivations and benefits in participatory video with young people’,Children’s Geographies 10 (2): 151-168.

Dickens, L. and Lonie, D. (in press) ‘Rap, rhythm and recognition: lyrical practices and the politics of voice on a community music project for young people experiencing challenging circumstances’, Emotion, Space and Society.

Hart, R.(1992) Children’s Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship. Florence: UNICEF International Child Development Centre.

Hart, R. (2008) ‘Stepping back from “the ladder”: Reflections on a model of participatory work with children.’ in Reid, A., Jensen, B., Nikel, J. and Simovska, V. (eds.) Participation and Learning: Perspectives on education and the environment, health and sustainability. Dordrecht: Springer, pp.19-31.

Jans, M. (2004) ‘Children as Citizens: towards a contemporary notion of child participation’, Childhood 11 (1): 27-44

Kraftl, P., Horton, J. and Tucker, F. (eds.) (2012) Critical Geographies of Childhood and Youth: Policy and Practice. Bristol: Policy Press.

Mills, S. (2013) ‘“An Instruction in Good Citizenship”: Scouting and the Historical Geographies of Citizenship Education’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38 (1): 120-134

Moss, P. and Petrie, P. (2002) From Children’s Services to Children’s Spaces: Public policy, children and childhood. London: Routledge.

Percy-Smith, B. (2010), ‘Councils, consultations and community: rethinking the spaces for children and young people’s participation’, Children’s Geographies 8 (2): 107-122.


Session Title: Economic Change and Children, Youth and Families: Current Experiences and Future Frontiers

Session Organisers
Helena Pimlott-Wilson (Loughborough University) and Sarah Marie Hall (University of Manchester)

Sponsored by the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group (confirmed) and the Economic Geography Research Group (TBC)

Session Theme
The global financial crisis of 2007-2009 has had catastrophic impacts on global, national, regional and local economic geographies. These impacts continue to play out in the form of job losses, pay cuts and short-hours working, depressed housing markets, public spending cuts and the rising cost of everyday goods, meaning that, for many people, the future remains somewhat bleak (JRF 2012). In particular, the impact on children, youth and families is noteworthy (see Edwards and Weller 2010), and yet commentary on the recent economic crisis and period of austerity has tended to focus more on impacts to government, financial markets and business.

In November 2012, the UK Government launched a consultation on the measurement of child poverty, moving away from principally economic assessments to include social factors. Despite political attention focusing on this contested area of measurement, there remains a paucity of research exploring the lived experiences of children, youth and families in austere times.  In this session we aim to explore the breadth and depth of such economic change as experienced by children, youth and families, as an often neglected area of study (MacLean et al. 2010) in relation to the frontiers of the past, present and future. We are interested in how children, youth and families cope during such turbulent times, and how they draw on the past, present and future to do so. We are also interested in how experiences, perceptions and understandings of the future and futurity according to children, youth and families has been shaped by recent economic changes, and likewise how they feel about the future in relation to past and on-going events.  We conceive of ‘frontiers’ in a variety of ways; including those that are abstract, experiential, imagined and tangible. While the frontier might a point in time, it might also be events of economic change, or be existing or new kinds of frontiers that emerge or loom as a result of such change, such as frontiers of poverty, partnership dissolution and unemployment.

We therefore welcome 15 minute papers relating to (but not limited to) the session themes, including:

• Impacts and experiences of economic recession (past and recent);

• Future and futurity;

• Employment, unemployment and job insecurity;

• Coping strategies during, and experiences of, economic change;

• Understandings of these above issues according to children, young people and families.

Being Involved
Please send your title and abstract of a maximum of 250 words by Monday 4th February 2013 to Helena (H.Pimlott-Wilson@lboro.ac.uk) AND Sarah (sarah.m.hall@manchester.ac.uk).


Session title: Unruly Subjects: Governing Young People

Sponsored by the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group
Conveners: Jo Pike, University of Leeds; Gill Hughes, University of Hull; Pia Christensen, University of Leeds; Peter Kelly, Edge Hill University

Session abstract
For many young people, growing up in the 21st century presents significant challenges. Contemporary youth is characterised by greater levels of risk and uncertainty, notably, but not exclusively in relation to education and employment. Such experiences are shaped not only by economic factors in the wake of the global financial crisis, but by increasing levels of uncertainty brought about by political instability, conflict, climate change, global threats to health, and technological and cultural change. Reflecting some of these concerns, geographers have engaged with the ways in which locally produced cultures of childhood and youth are shaped by global forces highlighting the absence of considerations of childhood and youth from discussions related to the global financial crisis (Morrow, 2011).  While young people themselves have responded to these ‘crises’ in a variety of ways including protest, resistance and riot, there are further implications for the ways in which young people’s ontology and sense of self are forged within discourses that paradoxically position them both salvation and threat. This highlights what some have called the ‘ambiguous agency’ of children and young people who disrupt normative and prescriptive ways of being young in the 21st Century (Bordonaro and Payne, 2012).
In this session we call for papers that explore the tensions surrounding young people’s agency and new spaces and methods of governance that have materialised in response to contemporary crises of childhood and youth. In particular we are interested in work which seeks to gain a broader understanding of efforts to shape, mould and transform the hopes and aspirations of children and young people and that engages with the variety of methodological, theoretical and/or empirical challenges and opportunities, limits and possibilities that these governmental ambitions present.
Papers are invited that engage but are not limited to the following

•       Young people’s engagement with practices of self governance
•       The relationship between aspiration and young people’s sense of self
•       Geographies of transformation  and resistance
•       Children, young people and agency
•       The relationship between affective/emotional geographies and practices of governance

Please send abstracts of no more that 250 words to Jo Pike at j.pike@leeds.ac.uk by Friday 8th February



Category: education| Uncategorized

22 Jan 2013

posted by Roy Huijsmans

The Bangkok Post announces that Thailand’s education minister has ordered all schools ‘to abolish strict limits on the length of students’ hair.’

A 1972 regulation stipulates that schoolboys should have their hair no longer than five centimetres and schoolgirls should have their hair no longer than the base of their neck. Even though this regulation was overruled by a 1975 ministerial regulation allowing students  ‘to have longer hair, but stipulating it must look tidy’, in practice most schools have remained strict about hair-length.

Students are reportedly pleased with this announcement. One grade 7 student said: “We have had crew cuts since we were in primary school. Now we don’t need to have our hair cut every month.” Adults appear less enthusiastic. However, a deputy director of a secondary school observed that ‘ the 1972 ministerial regulation is a good rule because the crew cuts make students look tidy and differentiates them from adults.’

Interestingly, where Thai school uniforms and school hair cuts function to differentiate students from adults the precise opposite is the case in Laos, Thailand’s neighbour. In Laos, primary school uniforms are modelled on adult dress (so no shorts for boys, and long skirts for girls), as is the case with prescribed hairstyles (girls are required to wear their hair long, in ponytails).



Armstrong’s message to youth

Category: youth

18 Jan 2013

by Raúl Escobar

Yesterday, in a popular US talkshow, Lance Armstrong admitted his use of forbidden substances like EPO to win seven Tour de France editions. Much has been said about how the use of doping has tainted cycling as a sport. And in the case of Armstrong how it has betrayed the people he was standing for as a cancer survivor.

What has not received much attention yet is how Armstrong’s admittance may affect youth. International sport stars are often (considered) role models for young people, and child and youth organisations have long acted on this awareness. See for example, Save the Children’s recent announcement of Real Madrid football star Cristiano Ronaldo as their new ‘Global Artist Ambassador for Child Hunger and Nutrition‘. In such light, what messages do explanation by sporting heroes about resorting to forbidden substances because everyone else was doing it, and because it was the only way to win send to young people the world over?

For the full interview with Lance Armstrong click HERE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Vietnam News reports that in the period 2 January – 31 March 2013 Vietnamese citizens are invited to provide feedback to a series or proposed amendments to the 1992 Constitution.

Discussions on the listserve of the Vietnam Studies Group highligt what seems to be an important change concerning the provisioning of free primary education. Article 59 of the 1992 Constitution (amended 2001) states:

  • The citizen has both the right and the duty to receive training and instruction.
  • Primary education is compulsory and dispensed free of charge.
  • The citizen has the right to get general education and vocational training in various ways.
  • With regard to school students with special aptitudes the State and society shall create conditions for them to blossom out.
  • The State shall enact policies regarding tuition fees and scholarships.
  • The State and society shall create the necessary conditions for handicapped children to acquire general knowledge and appropriate job training.

The proposed amendment does not explicitly mention ‘free’ education but talks merely about the right and obligation of citizens to learn right.

Below the Vietnamese text:

Điều 42 (sửa đổi, bổ sung Điều 59)
Công dân có quyền và nghĩa vụ học tập.


posted by Roy Huijsmans

Children have long featured in debates on guns in the US (see for example reports by the Children’s Defense Fund) but perhaps not as centrally as is the case now. All major US news-sites report on the role of children in both Obama’s announcement of a package aiming to lead to a reduction in gun violence, and in a video released by the National Rifle Association which calls for the precise opposite: more guns in the name of securing American children.

It is interesting too to take note of the framing of children’s voices. Fox News runs an article entitled ‘Obama deploys kids in push for gun ban’ and speaks of the use of children ‘to advance a political agenda’. The New Yorker reporting on the same event in an article entitled ‘Children at Obama’s gun speech’ describes the letter-writing children as ‘political actors’ and ‘petitioners of their President and their government’.

The Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations (CCVS) is a research centre based on cooperation between three Belgian universities. 25-27 September 2013, CCVS, together with War Child Holland, hosts an international conference on ‘Children and Youth Affected by Armed Conflict: Where to go from here?’ in Kampala, Uganda.

The conference will emphasise multidisciplinary views, including input from the fields of clinical psychology, social work, transitional justics, human rights, pedagogical sciences, education, global public health, as well as from the field of international advocacy. It seeks to facilitate interaction between researchers, practitioners and policy makers. Key questions that will be addressed include: how to bridge the gaps between different perspectives and different phases (e.g. emergency relief, development aid, international cooperation) regarding the needs of war-affected youths and their contexts.

The conference welcomes papers on the following themes in particular:

-Practices regarding rehabilitation and reintegration processes of war-affected children and communities

-Culture- and tradition-based therapeutic approaches

-Ecological and systemic approaches

-Creative and technical methods, including video and social media

-Community-building processes/community-based approaches

-Child participation

-Psychosocial well-being of war-affected youths, families and communities

-New and innovative means of providing psychosocial care to children and young people

-Psychosocial approaches versus trauma-oriented perspectives

-Impact of collective violence on children, youth, families and communities

-Perspectives on the interaction and integration of emergencey relief and development cooperation

-Peace and child rights education

-Transitional and international justice perspectives and practices

-Processes of stigmatisation, discrimination and exclusion of children affected by war

-The role of advocacy

The call for abstracts (max 350 words) closes on February 15th, 2013 and abstracts should be sent to (info@centreforchildren.be) mentioning in the title of the email ‘Kampala conference 2013’. A limited number of bursaries are available for presenters who originate from selected countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Those who would like to apply for bursaries need to complement their abstract with a letter of motivation. Further details on the conference will soon be posted on http://www.centreforchildren.be/





posted by Roy Huijsmans

TeachUNICEF‘ is an online portfolio offering ‘free global education resources’ on topics ranging from ‘human trafficking’ to ‘peace education’. Resources include lesson plans, stories, and multimedia resources, all with the stated aim of supporting and creating ‘well-informed global citizens who understand interconnectedness, respect and value diversity, have the ability to challenge injustice and inequities and take action in personally meaningful ways’.

The resources appear designed for consumption in the Global North, or in some instances for the USA specifically as is evident from question 4.3 of Lesson 1 in the ‘End Trafficking’ pack for grades 6-8:

‘Where does human trafficking occur in the United States?’ (the correct answer is given as: ‘Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, with particularly high rates in California, Texas, Florida, and New York’

Furthermore, the lesson plans are made ‘age appropriate’. In the same lesson pack on Ending Trafficking it is for example suggested that ‘sex trafficking’ may be omitted from the lessons on child trafficking ‘due to the age of the intended audience’. For this reason, the resources including sex trafficking have been marked as ‘optional’ and should these be included, UNICEF ‘recommend[s] that you collaborate with and gain the support of your administration, school mental health professionals, and your students’ families before including this mature content’.

The site also includes an interactive map, allowing educators to scroll the globe and to navigate from a PODCAST on ‘the recruitment of child soldiers in Somalia’ to a VIDEO on ‘UNICEF reponds to nutrition crisis in the Sahel’ pinned down in Chad, and to ‘Action: Advocacy’ pinned down in the USA.

In short, TeachUNICEF offers plenty of material to study the representation of geographies of development. A study of the ‘consumption’ of these ‘global resources’ in classrooms in the Global North would also be of great interest. This would illuminate how these lessons (plans) are appropriated in diverse settings and this may shed some light on whether the stated aims of TeachUNICEF are indeed achieved.


Project Childhood

Category: aid

7 Jan 2013

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Project Childhood is a 5 year (2010-2014), AusAID funded, initiative addressing sexual exploitation of children in the tourism and travelling sector in Mekong Sub-region (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam)). It involves an interesting set of actors, including Interpol, World Vision, and UNODC and frames tourism as a development issue bringing opportunities as well as risks to the Mekong Sub-region.

The documents setting out the rationale and approach of Project Childhood are well worth a read. This includes a 148 page ‘Project Design Document‘ on the ‘prevention pillar’ (there is also a ‘protection’, and ‘recovery’ pillar), which contains an interesting discussion on ‘terminology’ as well as the ‘strategy paper’ underpinning Project Childhood. In addition, Project Childhood appears fertile ground for studying the dynamics between ‘combating transnational crime’ and ‘promoting human rights’, the interplay between greatly diverse sets of actors in development, and is interesting for the role of the private sector as this is key actor in tourism.


International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.