CFP – Childist Landscapes

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
San Francisco, March 29 – April 2, 2016

Childist Landscapes: Geographies of child abuse and neglect, and the maltreatment of young people 

If one’s experience of life is rooted in one’s childhood, a richer understanding of social malaise could be gleaned by examining the most prevalent and widespread form of violence in society: the abuse, neglect, and maltreatment of children (Miller, 1981). 
This proposed session hopes to address issues of child abuse, neglect, and the maltreatment of young people through geographical research. We seek papers that address, together or separately, the theoretical, methodological, and empirical elements of this issue from a variety of positions, perspectives, and geographical locations. For the purposes of this session, abuse includes physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual forms of violence, neglect means the absence of the provision of children’s basic needs of food, shelter, education, respect, boundaries, and love, and maltreatment includes a wide range of everyday acts of prejudicial treatment that are based on the belief that children are lesser beings than adults.

Theoretical analyses could include speculative papers on the roots and shoots of child abuse, psychoanalytical geographies of childism (the prejudice against children, Young-Bruehl, 2012), or frameworks for integrating childism with other forms of discrimination such as racism, classism, sexism, ablism, heterosexism.

Methodological analyses may include ways of accessing child abuse through various techniques, interpreting and using surveys and other existing data sets, quandries about childhood memories, issues of authoethnographies, the challenge of overcoming the idealization of the parent and various other resistances, or hypnotic approaches to early life regression.

Empirical analyses could address experience doing research on child abuse and neglect, adult psychoanalytic geographies having their roots in child abuse, or adult child abusers among others.

Other research could include both macro and micro incidents of violence and care

  • the maltreatment of young people in school geographies, for example, in curricula that exclude certain groups
  • the maltreatment of young people in home geographies, for example in housing policies that encourage crowding
  • geographies of bullying
  • geographies of hospitalizations
  • geographies of public space and prohibitions of use
  • geographies of mental health
  • child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment in art, literature, and popular culture (for example, graphic autobiography and recent Broadway musical, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home)

Geographers and other scholars have addressed issue of child and adult abuse through various angles (see references below). We are working from and aligned with an emerging literature in the geographies of addictions, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. Likewise, this session is aligned with ‘slow’ scholarship, and encourages researchers at all stages of the research process to submit abstracts and attend the meeting.

Please send your abstracts to Ann Marie Murnaghan annmarie.murnaghan [at] by October 25. If your abstract is accepted, you will have to finalize them and register online before the AAG’s deadline of October 29, 2015 (5 p.m. EDT). 

I am happy to answer any questions or inquiries about this topic, and look forward to a rich session of research.


Aitken, S. C. (2001). Geographies of young people: The morally contested spaces of identity. Routledge.

Aitken, S. C., & Herman, T. (1997). Gender, power and crib geography: transitional spaces and potential places. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 4(1), 63-88.

Bauder, H. (2003). “Brain Abuse”, or the Devaluation of Immigrant Labour in Canada. Antipode, 35, 699-717.

Bunge, W. W. (1971). Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution. Schenkman.

Bunge, W., & Bordessa, R. (1975). The Canadian alternative: survival, expeditions and urban change (No. 2). Dept. of Geography, Atkinson College.

Cream, J. (1993). Child sexual abuse and the symbolic geographies of Cleveland [England]. Environment and Planning D, 11, 231-231.

De Leeuw, S. (2007). Intimate colonialisms: the material and experienced places of British Columbia’s residential schools. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 51(3), 339-359.

De Leeuw, S. (2009). ‘If anything is to be done with the Indian, we must catch him very young’: colonial constructions of Aboriginal children and the geographies of Indian residential schooling in British Columbia, Canada. Children’s Geographies, 7(2), 123-140.

Ernst, J. S. (2000). Mapping child maltreatment: Looking at neighborhoods in a suburban county. Child welfare, 79(5), 555.

Fluri, J. L. (2011). Bodies, bombs and barricades: geographies of conflict and civilian (in) security. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(2), 280-296.

Gray, H. (2015). Domestic abuse and the public/private divide in the British military. Gender, Place & Culture, (ahead-of-print), 1-14.

Hall, E. (2004). Social geographies of learning disability: narratives of exclusion and inclusion. Area, 36(3), 298-306.

Hall, J. M. (1996). Geography of childhood sexual abuse: Women’s narratives of their childhood environments. Advances in Nursing Science, 18(4), 29-47.

Huang, S., & Yeoh, B. S. (2007). Emotional labour and transnational domestic work: the moving geographies of ‘maid abuse’ in Singapore. Mobilities, 2(2), 195-217.

Lamme III, A.J. (1977) `A Geographical Perspective on Child Abuse and Neglect‘, Geographical Survey 6: 3-9.

Miller, A. (1981). Prisoners of childhood: How narcissistic parents form and deform the emotional lives of their gifted children [The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self]. Basic Books.

Pain, R. H. (1997). Social geographies of women’s fear of crime. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 22(2), 231-244.

Roberts, D. (2008). The racial geography of child welfare: Toward a new research paradigm. Child welfare, 87(2), 125-150.

Ruddick, S. M. (1996). Young and homeless in Hollywood: Mapping the social imaginary. Routledge.

Ruddick, S. (2006). Abnormal, the “new normal,” and destabilizing discourses of rights. Public culture, 18(1), 53-77.

Ruddick, S. (2007). At the Horizons of the Subject: Neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and the rights of the child Part One: From ‘knowing’ fetus to ‘confused’ child. Gender, Place and Culture, 14(5), 513-527.

Stoltenborgh, M.,  Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Alink, L. R. A. (2013) Cultural–geographical differences in the occurrence of child physical abuse? A meta-analysis of global prevalence. International Journal of Psychology, 48(2): 81-94.

Warrington, M. (2001). ‘I must get out’: the geographies of domestic violence. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 26(3), 365-382.

Warrington, M. (2003). Fleeing from fear: The changing role of refuges in meeting the needs of women leaving violent partners. Capital & Class, 27(2), 123-150.

Winchester, H. P. (1991). The geography of children. Area, 23, 357-360.

Young-Bruehl, E. (2012). Childism: Confronting prejudice against children. Yale University Press.