New Book! System Kids: Adolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation

19781469622590by Lauren J. Silver
UNC Press (2015)

System Kids considers the daily lives of adolescent mothers as they negotiate the child welfare system to meet the needs of their children and themselves. Often categorized as dependent and delinquent, these young women routinely become wards of the state as they move across the legal and social borders of a fragmented urban bureaucracy. Combining critical policy study and ethnography, and drawing on current scholarship as well as her own experience as a welfare program manager, Lauren Silver demonstrates how social welfare “silos” construct the lives of youth as disconnected, reinforcing unforgiving policies and imposing demands on women the system was intended to help. As clients of a supervised independent living program, they are expected to make the transition into independent adulthood, but Silver finds a vast divide between these expectations and the young women’s lived reality. Continue reading New Book! System Kids: Adolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation

CFP: “The Child in Question: Texts, Cultures, Curricula” – Special issue of Curriculum Inquiry

Deadline: 15 August 2015

The Editors of Curriculum Inquiry in collaboration with Guest Editors Lisa Farley and Julie Garlen Maudlin are seeking manuscripts for a special issue that is scheduled for publication in late summer/early Fall of 2016.
This issue titled “The Child in Question: Texts, Cultures, Curricula,”aims to feature the work of established and emerging scholars from a variety of academic fields and disciplines who explore critical approaches to understanding childhood using a diverse range of methodological and theoretical frameworks.

We invite articles that explore childhood subjectivity, discursive constructions of and about childhood, and curricular and pedagogical issues impacting children in order to advance imaginative, critical, and situated conceptions of childhood. Contributors may take up a wide range of theoretical frameworks, including feminist, post-colonial, post-structural, psychoanalytic, historical, and autobiographical lenses to present diverse and divergent perspectives that interrogate normative conceptions of childhood, development, and curriculum designed “for” children. Some specific subjects that may be explored include: the construction of difference and otherness, the complexities of the unconscious, the making of childhood subjectivity through discursive constructs and historical contexts, the reconceptualization of developmental psychology, the relation of childhood to coloniality and nationalism, the construction of otherness within and outside indigenous cultures, fictional childhoods, gender variant children and the question of sexuality, and the racialization of childhood in history, educational research, and practice.

Manuscripts for this special issue are expected to be between 6000 and 8000 words. Guidelines for manuscript submission along with other relevant information will be available on the journal’s website. All manuscripts submitted to Curriculum Inquiry are subjected to a preliminary internal review by the editorial team, and those deemed appropriate for publication in the journal will be sent anonymously to external reviewers. Questions about the focus of the special issue can be addressed to guest editors Lisa Farleyat or Julie Garlen Maudlin at

Other questions regarding submission can be addressed directly to the Curriculum InquiryEditorial Office at

Guest Editors
Lisa Farley (
Julie Garlen Maudlin (

Submissions Open – ACYIG Invited Session Proposals for Nov. 2015 AAA Meeting

Dear ACYIG members,
The deadline for submitting proposals for the 114th AAA Annual Meeting is coming soon. The meetings will be held Nov. 18-22, in Denver, CO.

This year, ACYIG may INVITE one session. This session will receive the “Invited by ACYIG” tagline in the AAA program.

We are now soliciting proposed sessions for ACYIG invited status.

For consideration, please submit your session proposal to both EJ Sobo and Aviva Sinervo ( by Wednesday, April 1, 2015.
Session proposals must include the following information:
  • Session title
  • Name, affiliation, and email of Session Organizer
  • Session abstract (no more than 500 words)
  • Names, affiliations, emails, and paper titles for all session members
  • Name(s) and affiliation(s) of discussant(s), if applicable

Decisions will be made by Wednesday, April 8th.

The AAA’s call for papers follows: 

“Familiar/Strange – Casting common sense in new light by making the familiar seem strange and the strange seem familiar is a venerable strategy used across anthropology’s subfields. It can denaturalize taken-for-granted frames and expand the horizons of students and public alike. But useful as this process of estrangement and familiarization can be, it can lapse into exoticism through “us/them” comparisons that veil historical and contemporary relations of power and powerlessness within and across societies, begging the question of the normative templates (of the “West,” of “whiteness”) that lurk behind. As an orienting theme for the 2015 Denver meeting of the AAA, we invite proposals for Executive Program Committee sponsorship (sessions, forums, special events, installations or media submissions) that press us to grapple with how and why this strategy proves both productive and obstructive, considering what it simultaneously opens up and ‘nails down.’ We particularly seek proposals that bring together and foster dialogue among subfields as we scrutinize the multiple uses and effects of this durable anthropological ‘way of knowing.'”

Refugee children as political and moral subjects – now and then

Information from Sweden – an upcoming workshop in March!

Refugee children as political and moral subjects – now and then:
Interdisciplinary crossings in studies of childhood, migration, and forced evacuations 

Tuesday March 3, 2015
9.00 AM – 4.30 PM
Linköping University, Sweden

The aim of the workshop is to address how contemporary research contribute to the historical study of refugee children and vice versa; how can historical research invigorate critical analysis of the contemporary study of refugee children. The workshop program includes presentations by researchers with both disciplinary backgrounds, such as history, sociology, geography, and interdisciplinary backgrounds, such as health studies and child studies. The majority of the speakers study refugee children and young people in a Nordic context. An important theme at the workshop is to approach children and youth as moral and political subjects, either in terms of agency (actions) or in terms of representations of children and youth (media, political documents, etc), or both. Continue reading Refugee children as political and moral subjects – now and then

Fieldwork Under Fire

By Cindy Dell Clark

Far from the stereotype anthropologist who heads to the field in an exotic, adventurous location, I am a homebody. My research has been conducted entirely in the United States. My informants are American parents and American kids as young as five. But I’ve run into adventure, especially recently.

Last Fall, as part of a hands-on, civic engagement class in Applied Anthropology at Rutgers University- Camden, my students were assigned to conduct interviews with 7th graders at an inner city Camden, NJ school not far from campus. Each of my college students had to conduct two interviews with the same 7th grader, as part of a child-focused evaluation of an after school program. My undergraduates had been anxious prior to their first field observation and initial interview, but once they had that first visit completed, they gained considerable confidence. The day before they headed out to the field for their second interview, in small groups, they were self assured and optimistic about the work ahead.

On their appointed day, four of my students arrived at the school grounds, right at the end of the school day, with grammar schoolers still milling around the playground. Two of the Rutgers students had gone inside, and two were just arriving when a man shot a woman in the school’s parking lot. The woman fell, dead. One of my students saw the shooting, and one heard the shots fired but did not see it.

Camden is no stranger to shootings. The school had drilled its student population in a lock down process numerous times. The well-drilled routine kicked in, and within moments everyone—including all four of the Rutgers student interviewers—were locked inside the furnace rooms with kids, teachers, and each other. They remained on lock down for a strained suspension of time until the police came and gave the all clear.

To protect the privacy of the teachers and students, I will not describe what happened in the furnace room, nor will I detail the ways in which the shooting caused not atypical trauma reactions in my students. Fortunately, we have a trauma-experienced psychologist on staff at student health services at Rutgers Camden; she accepted my invitation to visit my classroom at our next session immediately after the shooting. This debriefing session was very healing for everyone, those who went through the experience directly, and those who became upset in sympathy with the four students who were directly involved. This class had become close knit, even before the shooting, and the students were comfortable with each other as they together confronted what had happened. The Rutgers-based psychologist left her business cards to make it easy to contact her for follow-up one-on-one appointments. As a clinician, she advised us that the students should plan to return to the school and make up their interviews as soon as possible, since post-trauma avoidance can trigger complicating reactions over time.

I personally drove and accompanied the students when they returned, with some apprehension, to the school grounds. I stayed in the school hallway while they successfully conducted interviews with 7th graders, who had been locked in the furnace room right along with their interviewers. Resilience of character was in evidence, all around.

Urban fieldwork, in my experience, has the potential to endow students with a fuller grasp of lived social reality. The dose of reality those Applied Anthropology students got in my class was profound, and they appreciated the lives of the children they studied with deepened sensitivity to their struggles.

If student ratings are any indication that I handled this experience appropriately, I perhaps did. The course received a perfect score on class evaluation surveys weeks later. Apparently, the steps I took turned out to be right for my students in this difficult situation: first, getting immediate psychological support for them by a trauma-knowledgeable clinician, and second, showing personal care and support to each student by accompanying them to the school (and crime scene) so they could again interview the 7th graders, all the more aware of the tough environment in which the interviewed boys and girls dwell.

The alleged murderer (who shot the woman in front of witnesses on a sunny afternoon) was ultimately arrested. The murder was reported in the local newspapers with a small story, but was not considered noteworthy enough to be featured prominently in area media.

Doing research in America in the 21st century, violence is endemic to the culture and therefore endemic to informants’ worlds. It takes courage to delve into children’s lives in our society; researchers and student-researchers are not beyond the reach of guns and trauma when astonishingly, shootings at schools have come to be taken in stride.

Cindy Dell Clark is currently a member of the ACYIG Advisory Board and Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University Camden. 

Blog Editor’s Note: If you would like to blog about your experience conducting research with children and youth, or have resources or advice to share with the ACYIG community, please contact Dori Beeler at dbeeler1[at]