Public talk: When Design Designs Children and Childhoods

Public talk by Spyros Spyrou, hosted by the UCL Critical Childhood Studies Research Group

12th October, 12-13.30

In person at UCL (central London, room tbc)

In this talk, I wish to problematize the notion of design in childhood studies and to suggest that it can serve as an interesting entry point into discussions of ontology in childhood. I wish to focus in particular on ‘ontological design’, a theory of design that is increasingly discussed in critical design studies but has not as yet, in any substantive way, informed discussions in critical childhood studies. Ontological design assumes that design has ontological effects—it shapes, in other words, our worlds by designing back our ways of being. Applied to children and childhood, ontological design suggests that the means through which we design childhoods (through products, services, policies, technologies, discourses, etc) end up designing back children and childhoods. In this way, and without dismissing the agentic role of children in the world, ontological design alerts us about the powerful role of design in shaping children’s subjectivities and experiences of the world and ultimately the kinds of childhoods that they inhabit. Simultaneously, it pinpoints the potential for design to serve other ontological purposes and ways of being for children. The ethics and politics of design surface, in this context, as paramount.

Spyros Spyrou is a Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the European University Cyprus and a co-editor of the journal Childhood. His books include Disclosing Childhoods: Research and Knowledge Production for a Critical Childhood Studies, Children and Borders (with Christou, eds)and Reimagining Childhood Studies (with Rosen and Cook, eds), and some of his recent research focuses on young climate activists.

For more information contact Rachel Rosen (r.rosen@ucl.ac.uk). 

Book talk: The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City

25 March 2021, Hosted by the Critical Childhood Studies Research Group at UCL.

In this book, Tyler Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based community-based arts studio for youth. Through an auto-ethnographic account, based on nearly twenty years of educational leadership and fieldwork, Denmead shows how some young people credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods. In this talk, Denmead discusses how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradox and the ways in which young people refuse gentrification and its troubling racial logics through their creative practices.

Tyler Denmead teaches in the Faculty of Education and Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City (Duke University Press, 2019) and a founder of New Urban Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. His most recent journal articles can be read in Studies in Art Education, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, and Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education.

Liberalism’s Erasures, a Reimagining Childhood Studies webinar

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 16-17.30 London time (BST)  (registration information below)

In this webinar, we tie together the conversations we’ve had on reimagining childhood studies, refusal and slow violence by inviting our speakers to think with, and across, theoretical frameworks that have challenged liberalism.  For quite some time now, critical scholarship around race, indigeneity, dis/ability, feminism, neo-Marxism, de-colonialism and postcolonialism have productively interrogated liberal certitudes.  These theorizations coalesce in their attempts to historicize liberalism’s moral assertions, politicize its ethics of neutrality and recognize, as well as rework, its ongoing devaluation of particular lives.  Our aim with this conversation is to explore the potential and utility of these critiques of liberalism to reimagine certain key assumptions within Childhood Studies.  Some of the questions that our panellists have been asked to address include: 

  • How does these frameworks powerful historicizing of liberalism’s cultural, social, psychic and material practices in settler and non-settler colonies compel us to critically open-up Childhood Studies’ understandings of children’s subjectivities, including the dehistoricized valorization of ‘agency’?   
  • Given how these theorizations highlight the exploitation of marginal non-white childhoods as neither contingent nor haphazard, how might a more politicized framing of liberal settler and post-independence states, politics of accumulation, racialized capitalism and ‘slow violence’ fundamentally complicate existing understandings children and futurity?    
  • How might we work to epistemically include marginal children’s cultivation of everyday forms of knowledge – including their ‘refusal’ – as that which often exceed and fail to neatly fit within their representation within “narratives of pain” (Tuck et al 2014)?

Speakers:


Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

Reimagining Childhood Studies webinar series 

The Reimagining Childhood Studies webinar series takes up the challenge posed by the recent publication of Reimagining Childhood Studies (Spyrou, Rosen and Cook 2019) to collectively rethink, innovate, and reimagine our field of studies in an effort to offer a substantive, renewed, and inspiring agenda for the years to come. 

The series is convened by: 

Watch previous webinars: 

Book talk: The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City

25th March 2021, 12.30-13.30

Hosted by the Critical Childhood Studies Research Group at UCL.

In this book, Tyler Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based community-based arts studio for youth. Through an auto-ethnographic account, based on nearly twenty years of educational leadership and fieldwork, Denmead shows how some young people credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods. In this talk, Denmead will present how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradox and the ways in which young people refuse gentrification and its troubling racial logics through their creative practices.

Tyler Denmead teaches in the Faculty of Education and Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City (Duke University Press, 2019) and a founder of New Urban Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. His most recent journal articles can be read in Studies in Art Education, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, and Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education.

Register in advance for this talk: https://ucl.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYlcOCsqDkrEtxjyOwn3Tlyd_qzHW1SVsRg
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Childhood’s Refusals?, a Reimagining Childhood Studies webinar

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 16-17.30GMT

This upcoming webinar takes up the notion of ‘refusal’ to explore its value and utility for Childhood Studies. Refusal, in the work of political anthropologist and Indigenous Studies scholar Audra Simpson, is both a research sensibility and decolonial act that presses the limits of a liberal politics of recognition. With the help of three distinguished scholars, in this webinar we consider: What does refusal mean in the context of critical childhood studies, given the thorny problem of power-laden generational relations and oppressive infrastructures of listening? In taking up refusal’s challenge to shift our unit of analysis away from marginalised peoples and pain narratives, what are the institutions, modes of power, and mutating forms of capitalist realism that demand exploration, interrogation, and reimagining in childhood studies?

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Slow Violence, a Reimagining Childhood Studies webinar

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 16-17.30GMT

In this upcoming webinar, part of the Reimagining Childhood Studies series, we take up Rob Nixon’s (2011) notion of ‘slow violence’ to explore its value and utility for Childhood Studies as a field. Slow violence, in contrast to spectacular violence which can be easily seen and recognized, is, according to Nixon, gradual, attritional and often invisible. As a result, and despite its destructive force, it remains largely unaccounted for.

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Reimagining Childhood Studies – Webinar Series

This webinar series took up the challenge posed by the recent publication of Reimagining Childhood Studies (Spyrou, Rosen and Cook 2019) to collectively rethink, innovate, and reimagine our field of studies in an effort to offer a substantive, renewed, and inspiring agenda for the years to come.

The series is now part of a new platform for childhood studies, aimed at reinvigorating debate within the field and opening it up to new ways of thinking finely tuned to the ethics and politics of this scholarly field. All webinar videos and more are available the new reimagining childhood studies website.

Organizers: Spyros Spyrou (European University Cyprus); Rachel Rosen (University College London); Sarada Balagopalan (Rutgers University).