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) 

In a world centered on adults, ‘childhood’ as a social category is marginal. Such marginality makes complex tracks on child and youth bodies, psyches, relationships, and spaces. Existing research on children and youth has expanded our understanding beyond a binary and static reading of their lives by framing the multiple sources of marginality as active sociocultural processes that are embedded in—but are not overdetermined by—enduring effects like structural violence, capitalism, racism, homophobia, and nationalism. This scholarship compels us to pay attention to the movements, narratives, and exchanges that mark these processes of making, breaking, and negotiating marginalities.  This conference aims to rethink child and youth marginalities in generative and creative ways that situate young people at the center, and that resist their dehumanization, whether through criminalization or romanticization.

The questions that this conference seeks to explore include, but are not limited to, the following: What are the different ways in which children and youth experience marginalization? To what extent do young people identify and engage with categories produced by the state and civil society around their marginalization?  How critical is biological age to the construction of marginality, particularly given the tendency to fetishize the ‘neglected’ child while pathologizing the ‘juvenile’?  How does increased state surveillance along with reduced social protection affect the kin and domestic households of children and youth, including their roles and relationships in these domains?  How do global efforts to improve the lives of marginal children represent marginality as an ahistorical and universal condition?  How do youth create counter-narratives within projects of improvement directed by the state and civil society?  By documenting the tensions between young people’s economic and social precarity and their desire for a more equitable future, how does scholarship and advocacy on or with marginal youth reconceptualize marginalities?

This conference seeks to bring together emerging and established scholars and practitioners across the fields of anthropology, sociology, geography, education, urban studies, and social work to understand, rethink, and transform child and youth marginalities. In addition, we will consider conference submissions on a full range of themes connected to the anthropology of children and childhood.

Aimee Meredith Cox, Associate Professor in Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University (, will give our keynote address. Dr. Cox’s award-winning book, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke University Press, 2015) explores how Black girls in a Detroit homeless shelter develop creative strategies through performance, protest, and the politics of respectability that resist the binds of poverty, racism, and sexual & gendered violence.  Their narratives speak to broad conditions of deindustrialization and urban change and reclaim Black life in the urban United States.

Although participants are welcome to submit panel proposals, the conference organizers will also be forming panels from individually-submitted papers based on the categories below.  If you would like to be considered for inclusion on one of these panels, please clearly indicate the categories on your submission.  You may suggest more than one category:

  1. Methodology
  2. Violence
  3. Illness and (Dis)ability
  4. Schooling and Skilling Youth
  5. Youth Movements
  6. Race and Ethnicity
  7. Labor and Work
  8. Gender and Sexuality

Submissions may be made in the following formats:

  1. Individual Volunteered Paper:Individual paper presentations are 15 minutes long and will be grouped into organized sessions of related papers.
  2. Panel Session:A panel is a group of papers (no more than 4) submitted jointly for a single session. In addition to individual paper abstracts, submission materials must include a panel title, abstract, session chair, and discussant (optional; in addition to the four paper presenters). Panel sessions are 90 minutes in length.
  3. Roundtables: Roundtables raise a significant question to be discussed by multiple panelists, and offer unique opportunities for learning and exchange. In lieu of individual abstracts, roundtable proposals should include a single abstract identifying the targeted questions that panelists will address, and the names and affiliations of panelists. Proposals for roundtables should include at least 4 panelists. Roundtables are 90 minutes in length.
  4. Workshops: A workshop typically utilizes a structured, didactic format in which the organizer is a specialist and participants attend to learn the specialty. Workshops should be offered free of charge. Submissions should include the abstract, a short biography of the workshop leader, and any specific technology or space requirements. Workshops may be 90 minutes.
  5. Performance/Other Presentation: We welcome innovative presentations (performance art, visual presentation, short-film, meet-the-author session, etc.) that relate to the conference theme. If you would like to propose a session in this format, provide a summary of the performance/presentation and any specific technology or space requirements. Performances are 90 minutes in length. To discuss other possibilities, please email:

All submissions should include:

  • author/organizer name(s) and affiliation(s);
  • title;
  • 500-word abstract;
  • three key words;
  • the conference theme(s) (one or more, if any) which this submission addresses; and
  • space or A/V needs.

Submissions should be emailed to by Monday, December 3, 2018 by 5 p.m. EST.