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Seminar 1

(De)territorialising the field – the focus and impact of government social policy, educational research and practice

(Manchester Metropolitan University, Thursday 23rd June 2011)

 This first seminar will generate an overview of challenges that permeate the relationship between educational research, policy imperatives and inquiry-led practice in North American and more local UK contexts. It will offer an opportunity for attendees to grapple with concerns around the polarisation of paradigms and discourses that current circulate within educational policy, practice and research in childhood contexts. We will invite speakers who will evoke theoretical, paradigmatic and ideological frictions in order to ‘open up’ childhood.

 Seminar 2

Entangling the issues – theorising the condition of the child today

(Birkbeck College London, Friday 21st October 2011)

This second seminar will initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue between leading academics and researchers working across the field of childhood. Three leading research studies from education, sociology, psychology and cultural studies will be presented by steering group members (see CVs). The seminar will examine the origins of the present interest in interdisciplinary and integrated work; the institutional contexts and constraints within which such work is being produced; models of the child being presented in these studies.

 Seminar 3

Historical legacies: interdisciplinary concepts of objects, personhood and identity

(V & A Museum of Childhood, Wednesday 18th January 2012)

This third seminar will focus on addressing the challenges of theorising the historic relationships between the familiar developmental educational discourses and notions of trangression from an interdisciplinary perspective. It will explore how education can be enriched by critically engaging with the history of thinking about the child and childhood in different disciplines. For example, we will use social history and literature to disrupt ideas around schoolchild uniform(ity), the iconography of school badges and mottoes, silences and images of the class photograph, particularly when ‘…public images of schooling are usually produced and framed to… reassure an essentially excluded audience of the sound, secure, caring and professional interior, access to which is otherwise denied and hidden from the outsider…’ (Burke and Ribeiro de Castro, 2007: 215, 218). We will also question ‘what are the objects / artefacts of childhood’, attending to the interests of historians, anthropologists, and philosophers and opening up ideas about objects that ‘carry’ the traces of narratives and discourses around children, their lives and communities. This seminar will consider the historical and future fertile sites for interrogation by researchers in a variety of disciplines.

Seminar 4

Interdisciplinary ethical challenges – the ‘state’ of the society and world in which children are growing up

(University of Sheffield, Thursday 29th March 2012)

This fourth seminar will examine the ethical challenges of attempting to study ‘the child’ across disciplines such as sociology, art and visual anthropology and the role of childhood research in empowering individuals and societies to make change. We will evoke awkward conversational encounters that consider a series of images of the child alongside UK policy documents that construe the young child in particular and sterile ways. Contemporary UK mandates for children to be ‘safe’, ‘secure’ and ‘healthy’ are driven by society’s anxious construal of the child and childhood. It is as if the child must be buckled into the logic of policy, legislation and/or universal notions. By turning to a variety of alternative disciplines (sociology, art and visual anthropology), we aim to disturb ‘right minded’ notions, deriving from humanist discourses, of child safety and health. The seminar will conjure a disruptive methodology that engages with the complexities and intricacies of children’s worlds, to rupture the familiar devices that frame the child.

 Seminar 5

The Other Child: exploring the strangeness of infancy and early years

(Salford University, Wednesday 23rd May 2012)

This fifth seminar will explore what Tobin and Kincheloe refer to as ‘difficult knowledge’ (2006) about children/childhood. The seminar will interfere with the spurious legibility of the child, ‘interrupting the fluency’ of our own narratives of childhood. We hope to invite participants that are interested in looking for ways to overcome the inertia of the discourses of early childhood. In order to do this, the seminar will tangle with art history, childhood artefacts / objects, surrealism, visual anthropology, literary theory.

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