Report of the 5th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families: ‘New geographies of young people and families in an era of global uncertainty’ (Loughborough University, 25th – 27th September 2017)

The 5th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families was held at Loughborough University from 25th to 27th September, attracting around 100 delegates from 18 countries. Addressing the geographies of children, young people and families in an era of global uncertainty, the themes of precarity, futurity, migration and mobilities, inter-generationality and (in)justice were strong throughout the 20 sessions and four keynote speeches.

The conference started with a keynote by Professor Gill Valentine, who gave a powerful talk on the inter-generational and spatial injustices of climate change, drawing on the attitudes of the ‘silver generation’, ‘baby boomers’ and ‘millennials’ in the UK, China and Uganda. The themes of her keynote reoccurred continually in other papers and conversations during the rest of the conference. The morning and early afternoon saw parallel sessions on ‘young people and transnational mobilities’ (convened by Ruth Judge, Matej Blazek and James Esson) and ‘precarious lives’ (convened by Harriot Beazley and Lorraine Van Blerk), followed by parallel sessions on ‘aspirations and transitions,’ and ‘participation and activism.’ The afternoon finished with a fantastic panel session (Gill Valentine, Tracey Skelton, Stuart Aitken, Mark Holton, Peter Kraftl, Lorraine Van Blerk) which returned to Cool Places (Skelton and Valentine, Eds., 1998) and examined the progress of young people’s geographies almost 20 years since publication. A drinks reception sponsored by Springer finished the first day.

source: Darren P Smith

The second day kicked off with a keynote from Professor Anoop Nayak, who spoke on how young working-class youth in the North East of England resist and manage stigma by attaching their own values and meanings to the term ‘chav,’ and reminded us to remember to talk to young people who are ‘stuck’ in place, as well as those who are more mobile. Parallel sessions on ‘young people, community and place,’ and ‘citizenship and its others,’ were followed in the afternoon with the third keynote speaker. Professor Anne Trine Kjørholt discussed her work in rural Zambia which brought grandmother’s stories, songs and memories of childhood into young children’s lives, and spoke of innovative ways to think about inter-generationality and generational continuity in the Global South. This was followed by parallel sessions on ‘interpersonal relationships and emotions,’ and ‘bodies and materialities,’ which led onto a session on ‘mobilities,’ and a panel session on the Springer Volume Geographies of Children and Young People. The conference dinner in the evening was a great opportunity for all delegates to come together, meet new people and to relax.

The final day began with parallel sessions on ‘everyday nationhoods’ in childhood (convened by Zsuzsa Millei and Sabine Bollig), and ‘emerging research in geographies of children, youth and families,’ (convened by Rosie Austin, Laura Crawford and Kirsty Garbett) as well as a methodology workshop (convened by Nadia Von Benzon). The conference ended with a fascinating lunchtime keynote from Professor Peter Kraftl on the future of childhood studies ‘after childhood’.

The conference would not have been possible without the hard work of Dr Louise Holt, the conference chair, the GCYF conference committee, as well as staff and postgraduate students from Loughborough University Geography Department, who manned information desks, chaired sessions and generally made sure everyone had a good time! Thank you to everyone who gave papers, convened sessions and participated in lively and productive discussions. Thanks must also go to the RGS-IBG, the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group of the RGS-IBG, Loughborough University, Springer, Routledge and Policy Press for their sponsorship of the conference. I would also like to extend a personal thank you to the GCYFRG, whose generous financial support made it possible for me to participate in this conference.

written by Rosalie Warnock, recipient of the GCYFRG conference bursary 2017.
Rosalie Warnock is a PhD student in the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London. Her Masters research (presented at this conference) explored inter-generational perspectives on work and transitions to adulthood in the London Docklands. Her PhD research examines how vulnerable people navigate ‘advice’ (formal and informal) in order to ‘cope’ in austerity Britain.

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