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The 8th conference of the European Asociation for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) featured a panel dedicated to the question of what Southeast Asia has to contribute to the field of youth studies.

This ‘youth studies panel‘ was composed of the following six presentations:

  • Life is ART”: New Emerging Youth Networks in Hanoi
    Stephanie Geertman
    (Institut National De La Recherche Scientifique, Canada)
  • Youth, Phones and Companies: Insights from Southeast Asia
    Roy Huijsmans
    (Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands)
  • Parental Expectations and Young People’s Migratory Experiences in Indonesia
    Wenty Marina Minza
    (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia)
  • Making it in the City: Young Adults, Faith and Social Tolerance in a Middle-Class Housing Complex in Jakarta
    Suzanne Naafs
    (University of South Australia, Australia)
  • Saint, Celebrity, and the Self(ie): Body-Politics at Play in Late-Socialist Vietnam
    Tri Phuong (Yale University, USA)
  • Coming of Age in the Transitional Cohorts of Youth in Southeast Asia
    Peter Xenos (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)

A few important points transpired from these presentations, which speak in interesting ways to the panel’s starting question. First, possibly because the relative absence of a strong and coherent body of youth studies based on Southeast Asian research the presentations were remarkably diverse and refreshing. There was very little inward looking talk about youth studies. Instead, all presentations developed their youth studies perspective in relation to key debates in related fields such as media studies, urban studies, demography, planning, anthropology of the state. Second, a relational approach informed many of the presentations; emphasising the importance of understanding youth in relation to other age groupings, events, and wider forces. Third, in contrast to the pessimistic literature on for example youth un(der)employment, many of the presentations in this panel stressed the importance of fun and leisure in young people’s lives, including in relation to matters of (serious) political significance.

In addition, to this ‘youth studies panel’ various other youth related presentations were scattered across other panels (see for example HERE, HERE, and HERE). All this bodes very well for the future of youth studies in the Southeast Asian context.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

UNICEF employment (NETI)

Category: jobs/interns

19 Aug 2015


Please note that UNICEF is recruiting for their NETI programme (New and Emerging Talent Programme).

The advertised positions include things like ‘Social policy officer in Nicaragua’, ‘Monitoring and evaluation officer in Jordan’, ‘Education specialist in Turkey’ and ‘Child protection specialist in Mali’.

UNICEF describes their NETI programme as ‘an entry point for dynamic professionals interested in an international career with UNICEF’. The programme is structured as follows: ‘NETI participants are given an initial one-year work appointment with a three-week Induction at UNICEF’s New York Headquarters (NYHQ). During this three-week period, NETI participants familiarize themselves with UNICEF and meet HQ colleagues from the functional areas in which they will work during their field assignment’

Further details can be found HERE. Please note the 1 September deadline.

Child Saving?

Category: trafficking

14 Jul 2015


The coming weeks, the ‘Beyond Slavery and Trafficking‘ page of the openDemocracy website features a series of posts raising critical questions about contemporary ‘child saving’.

‘Beyond Slavery and Trafficking’ (BST) is an editorial partnership between openDemocracy and researchers from across the globe that has been active since 2014. Its objectives are described as follows:

This site aspires to be an alternative to the many ‘Modern-Day Slavery Hubs’ dotted across conventional media. While these outlets make an important contribution, they often feature stories that are sensationalist, de-politicised, and based on questionable research. We are here to go beyond such simplicity. Our editors will marshal the best of contemporary scholarship to provide informed, nuanced, and focused analysis. They’ll engage practitioners and policy-makers about life inside the policy system, and link failings to wider questions about the nature of the societies in which we live. (see HERE)

Over the next few weeks a virtual special issue on ‘generation’ is launched on the BST pages. As Sam Okyere and Neil Howard (the editors of this special issue) explain in their introduction entitled ‘Are we really saving the children?‘ the contributions show that ‘contemporary child savers often damage the children they seek to save because they operate under severely flawed assumptions’. Contributions are posted on a rolling basis so watch this SPACE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The upcoming 2015 conference of the Development Studies Association (DSA) is announced as ‘a sizzling set of parallel sessions which explore many different aspects of the complexities and contradictions of relationships involved in global development’. Whilst the draft programme indeeds whets the academic appetite the virtual absence of any engagement with children and youth studies is remarkable.

The DSA describes itself as an association that ‘works to connect and promote the development research community in UK and Ireland’. It proudly brands itself as ‘the largest and most coherent national platform for people studying, teaching and researching development issues’. It organises annual conferences, and this year’s conference is themed: ‘Global Development as a Relationship: Dependence, Interdependency or Divide?‘.

One would expect that such a theme would also appeal to researchers working on questions related to children and youth in contexts of development. Since children and youth are so often presented as the targets of development interventions (see HERE), the relational question posed by the conference organisers invites deeper conceptual and theoretical engagement with the various generational dimensions of development as relating to children and youth (but also, say, to older people).

A quick word search of the 138 page list of abstracts suggests the opposite however. The term ‘youth’ yields three hits, and none of the concerning abstracts suggest more than passing reference to youth. The term ‘children’ does somewhat better with 43 hits. Yet, some of it refers to the affiliation of the speakers or an acknowledgement of the funder (e.g. Save the Children) whereas in cases the term ‘children’ features in the abstract it is seldom given given any conceptual status. The key focus is on things such as the role of private education, measuring learning outcomes, and trends in child mortality. This lack of conceptual engagement with children as a generational grouping is also evident from the fact that the term ‘childhood’ appears only four times across all abstracts. A positive exception is a paper by Gina Crivello and Nikki van der Gaag on ‘Adolescent boys and social transitions’ which draws on Young Lives data and, indeed, it is here that the term ‘childhood’ is used (three times).

This quick assessment raises an important question. Children and youth studies might still be dominated by research conducted in the Global North, yet this dominance is increasingly challenged by innovative research conducted in the South, oftentimes in explicit relation to development. In addition, generational issues like youth un(der)employment have featured highly on various development agendas over recent years, and the appearance of new journals in the field (like this one) suggests children and youth studies is a thriving field. So why is it that in spite of all this, there is still so little intellectual engagement between development studies and children and youth studies?

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Category: jobs/interns

26 Jun 2015


Ecpat International is advertising two internship position in the field of child protection and children’s rights.

Ecpat International describes itself as ‘a global network of organisations working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.’

The two internships are both based in Bangkok. One position is based in the general Ecpat research and policy team (see HERE), and the other one is a legal internship position supporting research and policy work relating to work in Malaysia (see HERE). Both internships come with a small stipend, yet other major costs (like airtickets) come at the expense of the interns.

Kristen_CheneyA new special issue of the journal Global Studies of Childhood on ‘Children and young people in times of conflict and change: Child rights in the Middle East and North Africa’ has just been released. The special issue, which is the culmination of a TEMPUS-funded project in which several European universities with programs in children’s rights – including ISS – collaborated with four universities in Jordan and Egypt to develop a diploma program in Public Policy and Child Rights. ISS faculty member Kristen Cheney was involved in the project, and she also served as co-editor of the special issue with Debbie Watson of Bristol University and Heba Raouf Ezzat of Cairo University.

HindThe special issue includes an article by ISS alum Hind Farahat and Cheney. Entitled “A facade of democracy: Negotiating the rights of orphans in Jordan”, the piece draws on data and findings from Farahat’s MA research to argue that Jordanian orphans’ direct action during the Arab Spring did not yield its expected results due to the persistently patriarchal social and legal constrictions of their citizenship in Jordan.

Farahat graduated from ISS with a degree in Social Policy for Development and a specialization in Children & Youth Studies in 2013. She currently works as a program development officer for TechTribes as well as director of child and youth programs for the Ecumenical Studies Center in Amman.

You can view the full table of contents for the special issue on the Global Studies of Childhood website.

Anthropology of Youth

Category: research| youth

10 Jun 2015


The online journal Open Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association offers a theme-issue on ‘Approaching Youth in Anthropology’.

All articles are entirely open access for a period of 6 months (starting as of June 9), and can be accessed HERE.

The issue features a total of 15 articles previously published in various AAA journals like the American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Ethos, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly, ranging from a book review by Robert H. Lowie of Margareth Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa published in 1929 to more recently published work like Craig Jeffrey’s Timepass (2010).

Altogether it is a great set of articles, and an excellent introduction to anthropological studies of youth.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The University of Dundee is advertising a three year fully funded PhD position as part of a ESRC/DfID funded project on ‘Social cash transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories in rural Lesotho and Malawi.

The research project and the application process is described in more detail HERE. Within the overall project the PhD researcher is expected to work especially on the question of ‘how political and economic power relationships between national and international institutions are implicated in the design and implementation of SCT schemes’.


Research about children and youth in the context of the Second World War and its aftermath remains limited. This is especially true for children and young people whose parents collaborated with the occupation.

An important exception includes the work by Dr Tames at the (Dutch) Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). Amongst other things, she conducted research about the children of Dutch Nazi-collaborators in the post war years – a particularly silenced piece of Dutch history.

The research was published in Dutch under the title ‘Besmette Jeugd‘ (‘Contaminated Youth’). I have written an English language review of the title, which is available HERE and HERE.

The book is important for a number of reasons. First, it draws attention to the war-time childhoods that typically receive least attention during the annual wave of attention for the Second World War as part of the comemorations of the Netherlands’ liberation (4-5 May in the Netherlands) – yet, these childhoods were often deeply tainted by the (post)war experience. Second, the book sheds important light on the working of the post-war child protection and social work system in the Netherlands. This sector was hardly developed then, yet had to respond to the acute problem of what to do with children of Dutch parents who had collaborated with the German occupation. Many of these parents were imprisoned as part of the liberation creating an immediate demand for an alternative care solution. In addition, there was a strong concern that these children might have been contaminated by the ideas of their parents. The interplay between such ‘care’ concerns and ‘control’ issues constitute the third reason why this book matters, particularly since this is still characteristic of many child protection and social work initiatives today (and social policy at large). Yet, the advantage of the historical analysis presented in ‘Contaminated youth’ is that it illustrates child protection as a highly normative field and shows has this normativity evolves in relation to shifting ideas about ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’, changing ideas about the role of institutions such as the family, youth organisations, social work, and in relation to transforming geo-politics.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Have attempts to ‘save’ migrant working children in the name of anti-trafficking actually amounted to making young migrants more vulnerable?

Last month, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Migration Out of Poverty development research centre at the University of Sussex hosted a roundtable entitled ‘Labour Trafficking? Understanding the use of brokers in women’s and girl’s labour migration in the Global South’.

The event built on the Development Research Centre’s work on ‘child migration‘, and their current focus on ‘migration, women and girls‘.

Speakers at the event included Dr Priya Deshingkar, Mike Dottridge, Dr Ligia Kiss, and Jonathan Blagbrough. Collectively, these speakers brought lots of different experiences and knowledges to the floor about the field of trafficking and anti-trafficking, including important observations on the making of human trafficking as one of the worst crimes requiring immediate intervention, as well as reflections on common approaches that seek to address the issue of human trafficking.

Important questions that were discussed include:

-What would it mean to take a children’s rights approach to human trafficking?

-What interests is the anti-trafficking discourse serving if not those of the young migrants?

-What does a safe migration approach mean, especially in relation to young people?

-Does the regularisation of migration offer any benefits to poor and young migrants, or does it merely render them vulnerable to rent-seeking and corrupt officials?

-Are blanket approaches based on the measure of chronological age that render all those below 18 years of age children, and subject them to projects that seek to restore lost childhoods sensible?

A video recording of the event can be viewed HERE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


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.