CFP – Workshop: Activism on the edge of age


Workshop organised by the ERC Connectors Study & hosted the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QQ

June 2 & 3, 2016

The workshop brings together researchers and activists concerned with the lived experiences of activism across the lifespan, with a particular emphasis on earlier and later life experiences. We are interested in the spaces, places and times – historical and contemporary – where activism and age intersect in everyday lives and social imaginaries.

Activism and youth remain closely intertwined in everyday life and research.  Activist demographics suggest that ‘youth’ and ‘young adulthood’ is a prime time for participation in social movements, and the link between youth and social, cultural and political change has long held a fascination for academic researchers and the public at large. But what happens on the edges of age? Does an interest in public life, issues of common concern and collective action only emerge during ‘youth’ and dissipate after ‘young adulthood’? What metaphors link narratives of ‘growing up’ with social change stories (e.g. independence), and is breaking away always a renewal? Where do ‘younger children’ and ‘older adults’ fit in with discourses and practices of social and political change? And why is it that the vocabulary used to describe activism is replete with kinship terms (sisterhood, brotherhood, family resemblances)?

The workshop is organised around these and related questions and aims to explore the spaces and vocabularies created by putting activism in conversation with the edges of age, biography, the lifespan, and the relationships in which activists and activist imaginaries are embedded in everyday life. We are open to the scope and type of activity or politics being investigated, preferring instead a phenomenological definition of activism that foregrounds people’s relationships of concern and the individual and collective social action arising from those concerns.

We encourage applications from across the social sciences, arts and humanities, and activists who are interested to engage in a conceptual and reflective space. The workshop is free to attend but spaces are limited. Priority will be given to contributions that: address either or both edges of the lifespan; are original, creative and playful in rethinking activism and age; are cross-culturally sensitive either empirically or theoretically; and take a long-view of activism and age be that through longitudinal, historical or generational research or traditions of storytelling.

Contributions can be original research reports, case studies, theoretical articles, review articles, reflective pieces, or commentaries. Please submit a long abstract of 1000 words, together with a two-page CV, to by February 19, 2016. Please use the email subject line: ‘Activism on the edge of age’. There will be a small number of bursaries available to enable those without their own funding to participate in the workshop. If you would like to be considered for a bursary please make a case for it in your application.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome in early March. Successful applicants will be asked to write a short paper (4000 words) developing their contribution and to submit these papers ahead of the workshop meeting in June (paper deadline: May 20, 2016) so that all attending get a chance to read papers in advance. We are in the process of scoping opportunities for a special issue (or other suitable output format) and, following peer review, a selection of papers from the workshop will be considered for publication.


  • Abstract submission: February 19, 2016
  • Response: early March, 2016
  •  Paper submission: May 20, 2016
  • Workshop: June 2 & 3, 2016

The workshop is organised and funded by the ERC Connectors Study & hosted by CIRCY under its Childhood Publics theme. For more information about either please contact Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas: