All posts by ACYIG Web Manager

Area 51: Child’s Play and Conspiracy Theories

 By Elisa (EJ) Sobo (SDSU)

Evolutionary biologist Karl Groos observed more than 120 years ago that “animals do not play because they are young,” adding “they have their youth because they must play” (1898:76). With a few classic exceptions, this idea—equating children with play—colors what most people assume to be the anthropological study of childhood’s central focus. However, especially of late, we’ve seen plenty of explorations of how children cope with abuse and neglect, their role as household go-betweens or liaisons between the domestic and public realms, their productive capacities, and contributions to allocare as well as their service in the role of household head. Also of late, scholars have begun to see the value of play past the juvenile state.

Explorations of play in adulthood do differ in significant ways from those undertaken with or focused on children. That said, those who study play among adults have a lot to learn from the anthropological study of play in children; and in time, growth in understanding might be bidirectional. I realized this myself while engaged in a project on conspiracism. I was almost done, I thought, when an interview with the frisky young organizer of the Storm Area 51 event came across my screen, throwing my scholarly sobriety into a tailspin of sorts, or really, more of a cartwheel: an op-ed emerged in response.

In short, the op-ed, whose working title is ‘Free Beer for Aliens,’ asks conspiracy theory scholarship to bring play into the work. I also would suggest here that anthropologists of childhood might benefit conversely. Perhaps it is time we take more seriously as conspiracy theories the knowledge children create and carry in regard to the manipulations of parents, teachers, and others who hold power over them.

If you are interested in conspiracy theory scholarship and bringing play into this work, contact Elisa Sobo.

New Article: “Zambian Children’s Imaginal Caring: On Fantasy, Play, and Anticipation in an Epidemic”.

by Jean Hunleth

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork she conducted in Zambia between 2005 and 2014, Jean Hunleth’s new article examines the fantastical stories children created to account for their own caregiving practices during a TB and HIV epidemic in Lusaka, Zambia. Through the lens of fantasy, Hunleth provides a productive account of children as both agentive and vulnerable, imaginative and cognizant.
This article was originally published in Cultural Anthropology and may also be accessed at the following link: https://journal.culanth.org/index.php/ca/article/view/3915/442

Who are the ‘Experts’? Coproducing knowledge with adolescents in Bulgaria and Tanzania

by Kristen Cheney

(This work first appeared in its original form on BLISS on September 26, 2018. This is an updated version. Read the original here with photos)

It is often assumed that social research is the domain of experts—and that those experts are necessarily adults. Most research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) is adult-led and adult-centered, not only ignoring young voices but denying diversity amongst young people. Information about young people’s sexuality therefore often remains insulated within their peer groups, preventing innovation in ASRHR programming. This too often leads to a deficit or pathological perspective on adolescence in ASRHR research and intervention.

ISS departs from this premise in our latest youth participatory research project, Adolescents’ Perceptions of Healthy Relationships. The APHR project is funded by the Oak Foundation, with the objective to inform their child abuse prevention programming through greater attention to the broader societal, structural factors that provide an enabling environment for the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The project is led by ISS’ Kristen Cheney and involves Auma Okwany as East Africa lead researcher. Continue reading Who are the ‘Experts’? Coproducing knowledge with adolescents in Bulgaria and Tanzania

ACYIG BOARD POSITIONS AVAILABLE!

The Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group (ACYIG) is currently soliciting the following volunteer positions. All positions are open to accept joint appointments between two individuals. Joint appointments are required for positions indicated in plural. Open until filled.

Continue reading ACYIG BOARD POSITIONS AVAILABLE!

NEOS FEBRUARY 2019 EDITION NOW AVAILABLE!

The February 2019 issue of Neos is now available for your reading pleasure at http://acyig.americananthro.org/neos/current-issue/.

Highlights include: 
  • “Parenting and solidarity in research on (im)migrant youth” by Andrea Dyrness (U of Colorado, Boulder) – pp. 4
  • “Childhood and divergent experiences of armed conflict in Nepal” by Krista Billingsley (U of South Florida) – pp. 8
  • “On Hopes, Dreams, and Tensions: Youth Perspectives on Combining Digital Literacy and Cultural Resurgence” by Amy C Mack, Rob McMahon, and Herman Manyguns (U of Alberta) – pp. 15

Let us know what you think! Share your reactions in a Letter to the Editor at [email protected].

An Undocumented College Student’s Journey of Hyperdocumentation in Drawings

by Aurora Chang and Espiritu*

(This work first appeared on Youth Circulations on February 4, 2019. Read the original here with photos)

Espiritu, an undocumented college student, narrates her journey of hyperdocumentation – the excessive production of documents, texts, and papers in an effort to compensate for undocumented status or feelings unworthiness – through her own drawings. Her story is one among so many that need to be told.

Doing research, or storytelling, in this age of post-truth feels entirely demoralizing and … necessary. In a time when any utterance of text is suspect, it can be downright frightening at most and risky, at least, to document anything. When we see powerful leaders spewing personal beliefs and emotions in lieu of facts and evidence, and people embracing this approach to the world, what are we left with?  But the irony of all of this is that right when we find ourselves discouraged to speak is the same time when we must bring our stories to the forefront because they are most threatened. We must also find and provide outlets for young people to share their stories – telling our truths is still the best defense against despair.

Espiritu’s Journey

Espiritu’s big, round, enveloping eyes are dark brown, almost black. Her shiny hair, done up in the most precise tresses, hangs easily below her waist. Soaking wet, she is maybe one hundred pounds. There is a shyness to her toothy smile and an eagerness for knowledge that is palpable. An unaccompanied minor, she hyperdocumented her way through high school, community college and then to a prestigious four-year university on full scholarship. “Hyperdocumentation” is a term I use to define the excessive production of documents, texts, and papers in an effort to compensate for undocumented status or feelings of unworthiness – something I experienced and continue to experience as a once undocumented immigrant myself.

* Espiritu is a nom de plume.

…read more on youthcirculations.com

Pan American Dreams: Youth in the Americas Pursue Globalized Pathways for Change

by Elena Jackson Albarrán

(This work first appeared on Youth Circulations on January 29, 2019. Read the original here with photos)

Latin American youth leaders come to the U.S. every summer to gain skills to take back to their home countries. Over the twentieth century, American nation-states cultivated children and youth as cultural diplomats to promote capitalist-oriented development under the guise of hemispheric brotherhood. But upending the historical flow of knowledge production, this generation is prepared to engage and to defend their local realities and traditions.

A Virtual Reunion

From Panama, Nathanael—Natha, for short—leaned into his headset microphone, his face projected on the wall of a Miami University classroom bursting beyond capacity: “You all have a beautiful campus, wonderful working infrastructure, and incredible access to resources,” he affirmed. The Ohio students nodded—they’ve been told this since first setting foot on Miami’s campus. Indeed, institutional lore attributes an oft-repeated quote to Robert Frost, who hailed it as “the most beautiful campus that there ever was.”  “We don’t have that here in Panama,” Natha emphasized, “but we do have ideas for social and political change.”

SUSI 2018 alumni Militza, in Emberá Querá, Panamá, December 2018. Photo credit Lois Iglesias.

Roger chimed in to the virtual session from Ecuador, affable but pressing: “We have great projects going on, but our resources are constantly imperiled. Find ways to partner with us so that we can work together to effect change at the local level.” A political science major at the Universidad Central de Ecuador, Roger is also a member of the Colectivo Nueva Democracia, which encourages political engagement premised on fomenting cultures of dialogue and consent among emerging young leaders from differing political ideologies. On the side, he’s developing an app to promote eco-tourism in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

…read more on youthcirculations.com

CFP: RETHINKING CHILD AND YOUTH MARGINALITIES: MOVEMENTS, NARRATIVES, AND EXCHANGES

CFP: RETHINKING CHILD AND YOUTH MARGINALITIES: MOVEMENTS, NARRATIVES, AND EXCHANGES

Conference information is now available! Click here to visit the conference website, access registration, and view details.

Anthropology of Childhood and Youth Interest Group (ACYIG) Biennial Conference

March 7-9, 2019 

Rutgers University—Camden, NJ

Co-Sponsored by: AAA Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group, Department of Childhood Studies (Rutgers-Camden), Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice (Rutgers-Camden), and The Graduate School (Rutgers-Camden) 

Here are some other exciting conference highlights:

  • Three professional development sessions: Publishing in an academic journal, Publishing a book manuscript; Navigating the job market
  • Youth-led panels: Camden and Philadelphia activism, LGBTQ+ narratives and experiences, visual and multi-media arts, social entrepreneurism, youth Radio & creative writing
  • Community experiences: Youth-led discussion of Camden-based documentary at Hopeworks, https://hopeworks.org & Stedman Gallery exhibit tour: Camden: Past, Present and Future, which features artwork from children & youth (sign-up onsite at conference)
  • Optional “Taste of Camden” conference dinner Friday evening ($45)