Children, Youth and Development
Call for Papers – EuroSEAS conference, Vienna, 11-14 August, 2015
Panel title: What Role for Southeast Asia in the Field of Youth Studies?
Whilst still predominated by research in the Global North, the field of youth studies is rapidly diversifying in geographical terms. One reason for this is the demographic presence of youth in the Global South due to a ‘youth bulge’ or demographic shift towards youth. Throughout the Global South, young people have taken on central and complex roles as political actors and media activists, as seen in their role in the Arab Spring and Occupy movement. In addition, the phenomenon of educated youth unemployment calls into question the links between education, employment and economic growth and challenges prominent theories about social reproduction and mobility. Finally, the apparent disinterest among youth in farming and rural futures raises questions about the place of the rural in the lives and aspirations for modernity among young Southeast Asians.
Southeast Asian research with/on youth stands out for its relative absence in any of these debates, despite it being a highly youthful region. Indeed, Southeast Asia is part of the Asia-Pacific region that is home to 60 per cent of the world’s youth population (aged 16-25). This panel invites contributions that address this apparent paradox and ultimately contribute to the question of what Southeast Asian research has to contribute to the wider and quickly evolving field of youth studies. Given the rapid socio-economic developments characterising much of Southeast Asia and the relative absence of large-scale youth protests the panel seeks to explore the unique contribution of Southeast Asian research on/with youth in a focus on everyday struggles of being young and growing up (instead of a focus on ‘spectacular youth’), rapidly changing inter-generational relations that reconfigure the social position of young people, social mobility through education and migration, and questions about gendered futures and desires for modernity among youth.
Those wishing to contribute a paper to the panel are invited to submit an abstract of 350 words maximum and a summarised CV (1 page maximum) by Feb 15th, 2015 to the convenors. Successful applicants will be notified in time for the early bird registration of the conference (which closes on Feb 28th). Full papers are due on July 1st, 2015. For further details on the 8th EuroSEAS Conference: http://www.euroseas.org/content/conference
The Centre for Children’s Rights Studies at the University of Geneva advertises two funded PhD positions part of a Swiss National Science Foundation sponsored interdisciplinary research project on child labour and working children’s rights.
The first vacancy concerns a study of the opinions of working children and their organizations, and implies field work with working children in Senegal and in other West African countries.
The second vacancy concerns a study of the discourses around claims made by working children to recognize their right to work in dignity, and involves a detailed analysis of policy and legal documents on child labour.
Overall, the project’s major focus is described as concerned with ‘how opinions of working children on their rights circulate in the space between local and international understandings of children’s rights’.
The research project is described as follows:
With the resurgence of targeted marketing of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ toys there has been concern that boys and girls are being channelled into restrictive gender specific play. The Curriculum for Excellence focuses much attention on the importance of learning through play and the Caledonian Club at GCU prioritises early intervention as a means for raising children’s own expectations. This PhD seeks to examine whether there are any links between children’s play, the gendered marketing of toys and their own expectations for the future. The scope of the PhD would be developed by the successful candidate and the supervisory team but we anticipate some of the following areas may be incorporated:
posted by Roy Huijsmans
Mass-schooling has long been recognised as an important technique of nation-building. Indeed, Marie Lall notes in her introduction to Education as a Political Tool in Asia that ‘governments have long used education and the school curriculum amongst other vehicles for disseminating political ideology with a view to transforming societies and subjecting them to more effective state control’ (p. 1).
General Prayuth Chan-o-cha adds another chapter to this theme now that his ‘12 core values of the Thai people‘ have been included into textbooks by the Thai Ministry of Education. General Prayuth is the former commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army who launched a successful military coup against the Thai government in May 2014, despite his earlier claim of neutrality of the army in the Thai conflict (see HERE), and has meanwhile been appointed as the new prime-minister of Thailand.
The Chiangrai Times refers to the chief of the Thai Office of the Basic Education Commision who explains that ‘students at all levels will be required to recite the ’12 core values of the Thai people’ either as part of their daily flag-raising ceremony or in class’. It also lists the ’12 core values’:
1. Upholding the nation, the religions and the Monarchy, which is the key institution
2. Being honest, sacrificial and patient with positive attitude for the common good of the public
3. Being grateful to the parents, guardians and teachers
4. Seeking knowledge and education directly and indirectly
5. Treasuring the precious Thai tradition
6. Maintaining moral, integrity, well-wishes upon others as well as being generous and sharing
7. Understanding, learning the true essence of democratic ideals with His Majesty the King as the Head of State
8. Maintaining discipline, respectful of laws and the elderly and seniority
9. Being conscious and mindful of action in line with His Majesty’s the King’s statements
10. Practicing the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy of His Majesty the King. Saving money for time of need. Being moderate with surplus used for sharing or expansion of business while having good immunity
11. Maintaining both physical and mental health and unyielding to the dark force or desires, having sense of shame over guilt and sins in accordance with the religious principles
12. Putting the public and national interest before personal interest.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
One of the tenets of the so-called new sociology of childhood was the appreciation of children as social actors. Coupled with the ‘participation’ rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child this has contributed to a real shift in research on children. Children may for long have been objects of research, this is no long the case. There is now a wealth of material in which children, as subjects, are the central focus of research.
At times however, this child-centred research has become child-only research thereby losing sight of important other actors shaping children’s lives. Children’s domestic work is the case in point. Despite a growing body of research on children as domestic workers we know relatively little about the adults employing them (but note Raya Muttarak’s work in Thailand).
In a recent article in the journal Children’s Geographies Natascha Klocker contributes an important corrective to this picture. Her piece is entitled ‘Struggling with child domestic work: what can a postcolonial perspective offer?‘ By employing a postcolonial perspective, Klocker seeks to ‘expose the hegemony of Minority World knowledge systems and their neocolonial imposition on Majority World lives, issues and spaces’ (p465). In relation to the issue of child domestic work this means for Klocker 1) giving voice to those that have been silenced by Minority World knowledge systems. This includes child domestic workers themselves, but also their employers. 2) Critiquing the suggestion that Majority World children need rescuing from their adult compatriots as much NGO discourse implies. 3) Finding scope to go ‘beyond discourses of exploitation formulated around western economic theories and notions of appropriate employment arrangements, to the potential for ethics of care and more-than-economic relationships in children’s working lives’ (p466), 4) emphasising the West’s complicity in the conditions experienced by many in the Majority World.
In the pages that follow Klocker gives a rich overview of how employers of child domestic workers look at the arrangement and their experiences with and perceptions of child domestic workers. She does so on the basis of interview work with a total of 75 employers of child domestic workers in Tanzania. Importantly, the interviews were conducted by a team of Tanzanian researchers, including some former child domestic workers, in order to avoid the likely bias in responses generated by the presence of a foreign researcher.
The qualitative material works to nuance stereotypical images of employers of child domestic workers. Certainly, some are abusive and exploit their young workers, yet this does not appear to be a universal picture. Such research, Klocker points out, contributes to further decolonising our understanding of children’s domestic employment. Moreover, it may also be of strategic relevance. Many employers agreed that more must be done to improve the living and working conditions of child domestic workers – perhaps working with employers offers more scope for realising this aim than working against them.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
Marking its 150th anniversary, Oxford Brookes University offers a number of full-time PhD studentships.
This includes a PhD position in a project entitled ‘Urban Futures: Aspiration, inequality and transitions to adulthood among young people in London and New York City’. The anticipated project is described as follows: ‘The research will involve a year of long-term ethnographic research with a cohort of individuals making the transition from schooling to early adulthood, coupled with an intensive period of observation and interviews with students and school leavers in London (with a smaller comparative study in New York City, partly funded by the studentship provided by Oxford Brookes).’
Unfortunately, only UK and EU national applicants are eligible. For further details go HERE.
Open Democracy is a digital commons that hosts a number of sections. Since a few months this includes a section entitled ‘Beyond Trafficking and Slavery‘ which is an editorial partnership between openDemocracy and researchers from Africa, Asia, America, Australia and Europe.
The editors envision the site ‘to be an alternative to the many ‘Modern-Day Slavery Hubs’ dotted across conventional media’. The site, thus, seeks to challenge ‘both the empty sensationalism of mainstream media accounts of exploitation and domination, and the hollow, technocratic policy responses promoted by businesses and politicians’. This will be done through ‘a regular stream of articles’ as well as a pedagogical section with short introductions to major issues and debates.
To date, the site features a number of interesting critical reflections by renowned academics. This includes an interview with Bridget Anderson, a reflective piece by Anne Gallagher on how the trafficking debate has evolved over the past two decades, and a contribution by Siobhan McGrath that critically reflects on the USA’s self-assigned role of global anti-trafficking monitor. No doubt more will follow.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the prize jointly to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai ‘for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education’.
Malala Yousafzai’s story is well-known, and described in much detail in ‘I am Malala‘. She was shot by Taliban fighters in rural Pakistan for her promotion of girls’ education. Malala survived the injuries and is since celebrated as an important global symbol for the right to education of girls in particular. Malala’s message is certainly an important one. However, critical voices have pointed at the silencing of other Pakistani children’s voices that happens at the same time that Malala’s story is celebrated. This echoes Spivak’s question whether the subaltern can actually speak.
Malala’s co-winner is Kailash Satyarthi, a long time anti-child labour activist from India. Kailash is the founder of the Indian Bachpan Bachao Andolan (‘save the childhood movement’), a key figure behind the ‘Global March Against Child Labour‘, one of the architectures behind the ‘rugmark’ initiative that is meant to guarantee child labour free carpets, and known for his raids aimed at rescuing working children from bonded and forced labour conditions (see HERE and HERE).
Together, Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai seem to represent an simple yet powerful message about children’s rights: the right to education and the right to a workfree childhood are two sites of the same coin. Hence, the joint award. However, here some nuancing is important.
For example, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child does not speak about a ‘workfree childhood’. Instead, it calls in Article 32 for the regulation of children’s work and for the protection of children ‘from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.’ This is broadly in line with what working children themselves call for (see HERE and HERE), who furthermore also stress the importance of safety, respect and dignity in their work.
It is to be hoped that with the boost the theme of children’s rights receives with these two Nobel Peace Prize laureates such important nuancing is maintained.
posted by Roy Huijsmans
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.