Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood II Conference

he Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS) at the University of Lethbridge is pleased to announce its second Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood conference for May8-10 , 2015. The website for the conference is  Look for updates there.

Venue: The University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Date: May 8-10, 2015

We take great pleasure in announcing the second Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood conference, and look forward to continuing the conversations begun at the first conference in 2011, which drew together an international group of 125 scholars. We aim to build on the success of our first conference, and to exploit the synergies within the U of L’s newly established multidisciplinary Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS). We therefore invite scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of academic disciplines (including the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences, policy studies, social work, and education) to consider the state of child and youth studies, a vibrant and rapidly evolving field of inquiry.

Within I-CYS, we actively pursue a pluralist approach to the young. Our goals are to productively investigate childhood and youth as an experience, a biological fact, a social category, an artistic and literary construct, a category for historical and demographic analysis, a category of personhood, and as a locus for human rights and policy interventions. Our last conference attracted scholars from across the globe who contributed expertise across this entire spectrum.

We would like to invite all interested parties to attend and join us again for an examination of the many facets of childhood and youth in past, present, and future contexts. We welcome the presentation of your research results, policy approaches, and conceptual insights. As with our first conference, we wish to bring together divergent networks of expertise, ensuring that we offer the opportunity both for new research collaborations and the scholarly dissemination of innovative research.

Conference Format: Three days of multidisciplinary panels with scholarly presentations on conference themes; poster sessions; several keynote events; practitioner sessions; and a film screening.

Conference Themes and Questions: 

  1. Appropriations of childhood

Recent concerns about cultural appropriation raise questions of identity, authenticity, power, and categorical integrity. Do these issues apply to studying and working with the young? How are children and adolescents appropriated for other projects? This theme asks fundamental questions about what young people are (‘chattel, cherubs and changelings’ in the words of anthropologist David Lancy), what childhood and youth are, and what we think childhood, children, and youth ought to be.

  1. Is work the opposite of play?

Concern about the role of play in childhood and about the dangers of child labour are longstanding. Do they rest on unquestioned assumptions about what constitutes these categories of practice and experience? Do research and analysis reproduce these categories as two political, social and experiential poles in the lives of the young? Is this useful or is it simply limiting? In addition, this theme also raises questions about what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘natural’ childhood and adolescence, and how this relates to our understanding of what different life stages are ‘for’ across cultures, historical periods, and evolutionary time.

  1. Does humanitarian aid help or harm children?

The welfare of the young is one of the most powerful motivators for intervention, whether national or international. How does humanitarian aid shape a global order and reproduce particular categories of young people? This theme links to our other themes by bringing into focus the ways that particular definitions are employed to assess the welfare of children and adolescents in (among others) demographic and health surveys, epidemiological studies, and public health initiatives. Could such strategies and interventions be improved by incorporating insights from basic research in areas such as anthropology, sociology and evolutionary demography, behavioural ecology, and comparative psychology and neurobiology?
Proposals for papers on additional themes will also be welcomed.

Keynote Speakers: 

Tim Gill

Tim Gill is one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood, and an effective advocate for positive change in children’s everyday lives. For over 15 years his writing, research, consultancy projects, and other work has focused on the changing nature of childhood, children’s play and free time, and their evolving relationships with the people and places around them.

Katie Hinde, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Katie Hinde’s innovative work investigates how variation in mother’s milk and behavioral care influences outcomes from post-natal life into adulthood and inter-generationally. She is also interested in the organization of personality and temperament, and blogs at

Karen Wells, Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck University of London

Karen Wells is Programme Director for International Childhood Studies and Lecturer in International Development. She is the author of Childhood in a Global Perspective (Polity, 2009) and has published widely on children and visual culture. She is currently researching the life history narratives of children who have been fostered into the UK from overseas (privately fostered children) in collaboration with Children and Families Across Borders.

Jane Humphries, Professor of Economic History, All Souls College, Oxford

Jane Humphries’ recent book, Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution drew on a very large number of autobiographies by working men and used an innovative quantitative and qualitative methodology to illuminate aspects of children’s lives which are inaccessible on the basis of more conventional sources. The monograph was awarded the Gyorgi Ranki Prize for an outstanding book in European Economic History by the Economic History Association in 2011 and provided the basis for a successful BBC4 documentary, ‘The Children Who Built Victorian Britain.’ The conference will feature a screening of this documentary and a discussion featuring Dr. Humphries.

Submission Guidelines:  We encourage single paper submissions to facilitate the construction of multidisciplinary panels. Proposals formultidisciplinary panels are also welcome. Graduate students are especially encouraged to contribute posters on their current research. A prize will be awarded for the best student poster.

Abstracts of 300 words for single papers and posters and of 500 words for panels can be uploaded to the conference website after October 1, 2014. The deadline for abstract submission is October 31, 2014

Please note presentations should be a maximum of 20 minutes in length.