Call for Papers:
Children and Youth Speaking Up and Speaking Out
Children’s History Society and Manchester Centre for Youth Studies
Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, 24 – 26 June 2020
The last two years have seen some of the most powerful youth protest movements in decades. Greta Thunberg’s school strike calling for climate action inspired a global campaign among millions of school children. In the United States, March for Our Lives saw hundreds of thousands of young people demonstrating against gun violence in one of the largest youth protests in U.S. history. From possessed and prophetic children to young people participating in industrial disputes and school strikes, to violent gangs imposing themselves on their peers, the young have endeavoured to convey their own feelings and views, while adults have tried to explain and interpret them. Young people speaking up and speaking out raise questions about how the youthful voice has been conceptualized in qualitative historical research and what is meant by children’s rights. ‘Speaking up and speaking out’ has not necessarily taken a verbal form and not all children and young people have been able either to speak up or speak out, given a variety of constraining forces. Conversely, collective action has taken many forms, from the Children’s Crusade (1212), to traditions of “misrule” and role-reversal. This third biennial conference of the Children’s History Society consequently seeks to explore the challenges and possibilities of researching how children and young people have resisted, confronted or acceded in societies that have rarely valued their voices, in the face of adults who have tried to restrain them and enforce silence in different historical settings and eras.
We welcome papers from established and upcoming historians of children, childhood and youth, and also contributions from school-age scholars and youth in their teens to showcase their work on children and young people in history. Contributions which take a creative arts approach to the conference topic and from collaborative community engagement history projects are also encouraged.
We invite panel contributions (especially long chronological and/or geographically diverse in collective scope) as well as individual papers on topics related to the conference theme, which might include:
Protest and demonstration
Speaking out in work and play
Young people in political spaces and places
Having their say: children’s rights
The ethics of representing youthful voices (past and contemporary) in qualitative research
Representing young people’s voices in museums and heritage sites
Adult memories of their youthful voice
Young people’s writing and art
Young people in the visual and narrative culture
Conflicting and conflicted childhoods
Voices from the margins
Unequal voices: inequalities and growing up
Narratives of the vulnerable and marginalized
The emotional voice and spirit of resistance
Bodies, emotions and transitions: non-verbal communication
Autonomy, dependence, interdependence: relations between children, adults, and the state
Mental health, illness and mortality: developing resilience
Possessed and prophetic children and young people: speaking out with supernatural voices
The citizen child: belonging and patriotism
‘In the best interests of the child’: children and their experts
Youth under threat, youth in danger
Youthful voices in conflict
Youthful peer relationships
Youth as producers and consumers
Experiences of school and higher education
Transnational comparisons and contrasts
Youthful viewpoints as misrepresented
Critiques of youthful voices
The challenges of children’s voices
Agency and beyond
Please note that our definitions of children and youth are flexible, reflecting the multiple constructions through the time of these social categories.
The conference will be hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, the world’s first industrial city. Manchester has a history of radical politics and protest, a vibrant music (and football) scene, famous art galleries, museums and libraries, many within walking distance of each other. Lovely countryside, such as the Peak District and Lake District is within easy reach by train.
For individual papers, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a 2-page CV, to email@example.com by 1 November 2019. Panel submissions featuring three papers of 15-20 minutes apiece are also encouraged and should be submitted collectively by the panel organiser. Please state your contact email address on the abstract. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in January 2020. We expect the selection process to be competitive, and hence we will prioritise panels and papers directly addressing the overall conference theme as well as one or more sub-themes.