» Archive for category: ‘conferences


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


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: children's rights| conferences

2 Jan 2015

downloadNovember 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of both the fall of the Berlin Wall as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC). Numerous conferences worldwide were organised to commemorate these events, yet it seems none of them explored the relationship between these two historical moments.

The UN-CRC opened for signatures on 20th November 1989 and to date a total of 194 states are party to the Convention. However, appreciating its history requires going well beyond 1989.

In 1924, the League of Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This one-pager listed five needs of children that must be provided for (by adults). Following the dissolution of the League of Nations, discussions about a new Declaration started within the United Nations leading to the 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child. This short document contains a preamble and ten principles. One of the areas where it differs from the 1924 Declaration is with regard to work. Where the 1924 Declaration states: ‘The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation’. The 1959 document reads: ‘The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development’.

In 1978, it was Poland that proposed the idea of a Convention on the Rights of the Child; a document that unlike a Declaration would be legally binding. What followed was a decade of drafting and negotiation before the Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 1989. Importantly, the drafting thus took place in time in which East-West relations were very different from when the Convention entered into force.

In her book The International Law on the Rights of the Child, Geraldine van Bueren is wary of reducing the understanding of the coming into being of the UNCRC to Cold War geopolitics (p13). Whilst this is no doubt correct, she does not elaborate on the role that Cold War geopolitics might nonetheless have played. Since children’s right to participate in matters affecting them did not appear in any of the Declarations yet features prominently in the UNCRC it raises interesting questions of how the emergence of this participation right might be understood in this geopolitical context. It is further worth noting that the 5 states, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Laos and Cuba, that have remained socialist to date were among the first to ratify the Convention. Vietnam ratified the UNCRC in February 1990 (the second country, globally, to do so after Ghana) and China closed the rank in March 1992.

Many of the conferences that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the UNCRC took a stock-taking approach (what has it achieved?) whilst also looking into the future (how can it be employed better?). These are certainly valid questions to which an exploration of its historical relation with the Cold War would have yielded no response. However, with quite some of the people involved in the drafting of the UNCRC still alive perhaps there is also to say for an enquiry into its political history.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



Call for Papers – EuroSEAS conference, Vienna, 11-14 August, 2015

Panel title: What Role for Southeast Asia in the Field of Youth Studies?


-Roy HUIJSMANS, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), the Hague, The Netherlands; r.b.huijsmans@remove-thisgmail.com

-Suzanne NAAFS, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; s_naafs@remove-thishotmail.com

Panel description:

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


‘Empowering Children and Young People through Technology’ was the theme of Child Helpline International’s 7th International Consultation  that took place in London from 29th-31st October 2014

According to the 2014 report by the global child helpline network-Child Helpline International (CHI), between 2012-2013 alone, over 28 million children contacted child helplines and hotlines in different parts of the world. It further reports that:

The majority of these contacts were recorded at child helplines in Europe (41%), followed by Asia Pacific (32%), Africa (17%), Americas and Caribbean (5%), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (5%). Children and young people who contacted child helplines were between 10 – 17 years of age. The majority of contacts were made over the telephone. (p.6)

Whilst the majority of contacts were made over the telephone, this is likely to change in the future. Hence, child-friendly helplines offer a diverse range of communication options for young people between the ages of 5-25 years including web-based chats, short text messages (SMS), voice calls, letters through the free post as well as direct physical contact with social workers and volunteers.

CHI is a global network of 175 child helplines across 143 countries (2013 data). It seeks to support the ‘creation and strengthening of national free of cost child helplines around the world’ whilst also using ‘child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate for the rights of children’ (p. 48) Despite these efforts, it is estimated that the current helplines can only respond to 50% of all the contacts children make. This means that about half of the contacts made by children remain unanswered because of limited human and material resource-capacity of helplines.  In addition, millions of children are still unable to access child helplines altogether. Expenses are an important factor here. It is for this reason that conference delegates called on ICT companies and states to make all contacts by children to helplines and hotlines free.  Delegates included representatives of;

  • communication companies such as British Telecoms (BT), GSMA network which represents  interests of over 250 mobile phone companies and 800 telephone operators
  • UN  agencies (UNICEF ), regional bodies  like the African Union, League of Arab States and the European Union (EU), government  representatives and special rapporteurs like Mrs. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio (Netherlands) who is the special  rapporteur  on sale of children
  • A mixed group of old and newly established  child helplines  including NSPCC- UK who were also the hosts, Childline Kenya,  Missing Children Europe, Palestinian Helpline SAWA, as well as those with high end as well as more traditional technologies

With support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and regional bodies like African Union and the EU, national telecommunication regulators have issued unified, easy to remember service numbers for child helplines (116111 for Europe, 116 for Africa, 1098 for Asia). Some telecommunication companies like Telefonica of Spain have also supported operations of child helplines for years as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, these remain geographically isolated actions compared to the growing demand for services to children. There is need to make services absolutely free and accessible on a universal scale. Delegates argued that this will remove an important financial barrier in service access, and contribute to fighting violence against children, making it an important step towards realising Child Helplines International aim of making sure that every child’s voice is being heard.

This campaign looks promising. Already, GSMA has signed an agreement with CHI to promote the work of child helplines among its members, this commitment was made public on 20th November 2014 during the UN celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in New York last week.

Guest contribution by Irene Nyamu  (ISS MA programme ‘Social Policy for Development’, and one of the conference delegates as she was actively involved in establishing a functional 24 hours helpline in Kenya in 2006. Irene also served as a CHI Advisory Board member 2010-2012 representing helplines within the African region)


Development Dialogue

Category: conferences

24 Apr 2014

RTEmagicC_Logo_ISS-ANG-BUR-STE.jpgThe Development Dialogue is an annual conference organised by the ISS PhD community. The organisers welcome contributions related to this year’s conference theme ‘Rethinking Democracy: Challenges for global and local governance’.

The ISS is home to a vibrant research community comprised of faculty and MA/PhD students working on issues concerning children and youth in the context of development (see for example a recent ISS- hosted event on ‘Youth Research and Development‘). In that light we very much welcome contributions that approach the theme of ‘Rethinking democracy’ through the lens of children and youth (studies).

For further details on the 12th Development Dialogue watch THIS space or contact the organisers through: dd12@iss.nl


vechta5-6 December 2013, colleagues at the University of Vechta, Germany organised an international conference on Childhood and Migration: Gendered and generational perspectives. The conference touched upon many forms and dimensions of children’s involvement in migration, both historically and contemporary, indicating that the theme of ‘children, childhood and migration’ has over the past decade rapidly developed into a vibrant and diverse research area.

Two ISS faculty were among the presenters. Kristen Cheney delivered a paper entitled Aids Orphanhood and the Transformation of Kinship, Fosterage, and Children’s Circulation Strategies in Uganda. Roy Huijsmans presented a paper entitled Children, Childhood and Migration: Some critical thoughts. Here is the abstract:

Limiting myself to the development literature, I first ask why it is that the issue of ‘independent child migration’ emerged as a specific field in the early 2000s even though the phenomenon itself was hardly new. I concur that its original concern was a critique to the hegemony of the child trafficking discourse, with trafficking understood as a form of boundary management within development studies’ ‘migration turn’ working to construct ‘bad’ forms and categories of mobility as separate from ‘good’ forms/categories of migration.

The ‘independent child migration’ research agenda that thus emerged may be summarised as: demonstrating young migrants’ as actors in migration; highlighting that staying is often not a desirable option’; deconstructing the trafficking discourse; and reconstruction the phenomenon of mobile children as a migration issue with exploitation instead of children’s mobility as the target for intervention. Although this research agenda generated some important insights and has affected interventions, I argue that after a decade this research agenda is in need of reflection.

Here I limit myself to three points. First, the phrase ‘independent child migration’ effectively amounted to a further compartmentalisation of migration (despite this being a point of critique in general migration studies). Such a categorising approach tends to hinder rather than deepen a situated understanding of young people in migration. The latter would require attending to relational dimensions, by for example concentrating on the role of ‘migration networks’ and the role of various conceptualisations of age shaping young people’s inclusion in the migratory landscape. Second, a relational approach is necessary for moving away from an exclusive concern with ‘critique’ based on deconstruction-based analyses towards constructive analyses that would ask how young people’s migrations shed light on broader questions in children and youth studies. This would include debates on: life course dynamics, young people and state, transnationalism, global householding, etc. Thirdly, the focus on ‘independent child migration’ has kept out of focus the largest group affected by migration: those that are not (yet) moving. A focus on the young offers much scope for teasing out the interrelation between staying and moving in migration research. 



Ayona Datta challenges the idea that the underrepresentation of women in academic conferences has much to do with any lack of confidence on part of female academics and much more with the difficulty of combining academic conferencing with primary care roles.

A recent article in the Times Higher Education reported on a study of the low representation of women in academic conferences. The study was led by Hannah Dugdale (University of Sheffield) and found that the rate of female invited speakers to a prestigious congress (European Society for Evolutionary Biology) was lower than the share of women authoring high profile papers or holding high-ranking academic positions in this field. Whilst, the share of invited women (15%) is only about half the number that would be expected, they also found that women were much more likely to turn down speaker invitations (50% vs 26% among men).

When Dugdale was asked to reflect on why women appear more likely to decline speaker invitations she speculated that ‘it could be related to their lower perception of their scientific ability and discomfort with self-promotion, as well as their childcare needs’. It is the first part of this assertion that Ayona Datta takes issue with on her blog The City Inside Out. Drawing on her own experiences, she describes the many challenges (young) academics with care roles and responsibilities are confronted with when attending academic conferences, whilst speaking at such events is vital for early career academics in particular.

Although it is arguably men that are far and few in children’s studies conferences especially (whilst it remains a question how this compares with the gender distribution of authorship and academic positions in the field), Ayona Datta raises the important point of how the issue of childcare is addressed by conference organisers. Something worth looking into, perhaps for children and youth studies conferences in particular.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Children and Youth among the themes in the upcoming ISS Development Dialogue.

The PhD community at the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague, Netherlands, is organising its 11th Development Dialogue; a conference specifically organised for and by PhD candidates and young scholars working in the field of development. This year’s conference theme is ‘Bridging Voices‘, and is scheduled for 10 and 11 October, 2013.

The call for papers is now open (closes by 15th May 2013). Research on/with children and youth in the context of development is included in the list of topics put forth by the conference organisers. Limited funds are availabe to (partially) cover travel expenses and accommodation of researchers outside of the Hague and the Netherlands (for details see HERE).

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


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.