CfP for Children, Youth and Families Research Group (GCYFRG) sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

The Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference will take place from Tuesday 28 August to Friday 31 August 2018 in Cardiff.

Conference Theme: ‘Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography ’. For more information please visit Annual International Conference.

The Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group (GCYFRG) is pleased to announce the following call for papers of the research group’s sponsored sessions:

1. Introducing Young People to ‘Unfamiliar Landscapes’ Convenors:
Dr Thomas Aneurin Smith, Cardiff University: (
Dr Hannah Pitt, Cardiff University: (

‘Unfamiliar landscapes’ are places young people are introduced to, voluntarily or otherwise, by a range of actors. Unfamiliar landscapes include green and blue spaces that many young people cannot experience independently, because they are difficult to access, or because they are not skilled in traversing them: mountains, hills, forests and waterways, but also places that, although familiar, become unfamiliar as sites for formal or informal learning, about ecology, heritage or wellbeing.
Some argue such landscapes only recently became ‘unfamiliar’ to many young people. There has been considerable societal concern around young people’s access to nature, their freedoms to roam independently (Smith and Dunkley 2017). This has led to various claims about possible negative effects of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ (Louv 2008) on their wellbeing (Witten et al. 2013). Much of this concern focuses on children, rather than the more ‘difficult’ category of ‘Youth’. Equally, such concern neglects the plethora of services and organisations (schools, youth service providers, the outdoor education sector) that have long been introducing youngsters to unfamiliar landscapes. In the age of austerity and accountability these services find themselves under increasing pressure, with likely consequences for whether, how and where youth are introduced to unfamiliar landscapes.

This session will explore how introductions to ‘unfamiliar landscapes’ are caught in a number of contemporary tensions between youth, society and the environment, and how young people navigate this terrain.  Themes include:

  • sanctioning contemporary landscapes as appropriate or otherwise for youth to engage with ‘nature’ and ‘the outdoors’,
  • organisations and individuals enabling youth to acquire skills and techniques for acting in unfamiliar landscapes,
  • contrasting familiar and unfamiliar landscapes, how they are discursively and practically made (un)familiar to youth,
  • ways young people understand and experience introductions to unfamiliar landscapes,
  • the role of youth organisations, professionals and volunteers, including relationships between these organisations and young people,
  • austerity’s impacts on youth provision,  repercussions for youth access to, and enskilling in, unfamiliar landscapes,
  • youngsters’ boredom when introduced to the unfamiliar,
  • the culture of accountability, evidencing and evaluation, and implications for youth provision working with unfamiliar landscapes.

We welcome contributions from both researchers and practitioners who work in the youth or outdoor sectors, broadly defined. We will run two sessions – the first a paper session (15min presentations) followed by a practitioner forum in the form of a round table including invited practitioners from youth organisations and specialist youth workers.

Abstracts for paper presentations (250 words) should be sent to and by 2 February 2018.


2. In the Borderlands of Childhood: Feminist Geopolitical Approaches to Children’s and Youth Geographies
Convenors: Sneha Krishnan, University of Oxford, (
Negar Elodie Behzadi, University of Oxford, (

The present political moment has precipitated intense debate about children’s mobility across borders. Our session will contextualize this crisis by bringing feminist geopolitical thought to bear on questions about children’s engagement with geopolitics. Feminist geography has reshaped geopolitics by foregrounding intimate and embodied workings of geopolitical power (Dixon 2016, Hyndman 2004). This scholarship highlights young people’s agency in (re)producing geopolitical knowledge (Smith 2011, Skelton 2010), and shows that ‘childhood’ itself is co-constituted with geopolitical discourses (Kleinfeld 2009, Joronen 2016).
We invite papers that examine children’s experiences as migrants, as having been ‘left behind’ and/or as dwellers in border-zones, as well as work that highlights the geopolitical stakes of ‘childhood’ as a legal and social category. Questions we hope to raise include:
• How do we rethink feminist geopolitics through the perspective of childhood/youth?
• How do border zones unsettle/reconstitute boundaries of childhood, gender and race?
• How do imperialisms shape children’s experiences of geopolitics?
• How do mobile youth and children create political solidarities? Do they produce geopolitical knowledge?

Please submit abstracts to Sneha Krishnan ( or to Negar Elodi Behzadi ( by January 20, 2018.


3. Exploring relationships: narratives, spaces and normativities?
Convenors: Raksha Pande, Newcastle University, (
Peter Hopkins, Newcastle University (

This session will focus on relationships in terms of their analytical potential to understand identity, place and difference in multicultural societies. We are interested in exploring diverse forms of relationship narratives, spaces and normativities; we are also eager to focus on how relationship stories related to dating, marriage, friendship, family, intergenrationality, gender and sexualities can reveal the contested nature of household formation and family dynamics as well as broader debates relating to multicultural citizenship and everyday senses of belonging. Taking narratives, spaces and normativities as a point of departure – this session invites papers that explore the different ways in which young people from diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds tell stories about their personal relationships and in so doing contest normative constructions of family, sexuality and intimacy. Papers can focus on (though need not be limited to) the following themes:

  • Marriage and intimacy
  • Dating, friendship, Romantic love and intimacy
  • Minority religious and black and minority ethnic marriages and matchmaking practices
  • Normative and non-normative relationship practices
  • Personal relationships, young masculinities, femininities and sexualities
  • Multicultural Citizenship, belonging and intimacy – Intergenerational relationships and the family
  • Social media and relationships

Please email abstracts to or by 13 February 2018.


4. Tear down the walls! Cross-disciplinary engagements with geographies of education and learning, Geographiedidaktik and young people’s geographies
Convenors: Dr. Itta Bauer, University of Zurich, (
Dr. Matt Finn, University of Exeter, (

The starting point of this session is Doreen Massey’s argument that stimulating intellectual developments particularly come from “places where boundaries between disciplines have been constructively breached and new conversations have taken place” (Massey 1999: 5). We seek to cross boundaries between geography, social and cultural studies, didactics and pedagogy by promoting an “engaged pluralism” (Barnes and Sheppard 2010) of new ideas of research and teaching in the geographies of education and learning. These boundaries may have been built (and increased) on the premise of different languages and publication cultures or various forms of academic socialization and network commitments. Our hope is that by focusing on “connecting things”, we may actually renew the debate on “geography without borders” instigated by Castree, Fuller and Lambert (2007) but the promise of which remains unrealized.
To work towards this unfulfilled promise, we would like to explicitly invite contributions from geography, learning and didactics (Geographiedidaktik, didactique de la géographie, etc.). Issues like e.g. sustainability and learning (BNE) (Bagoly-Simo 2013; Widener, Gliedt and Tziganuk 2016), citizenship education (Jekel, Gryl and Oberrauch 2015; Mills 2012), critical and cultural geographies of schools and learning (Mills and Kraftl 2016; Noethen and Schlottmann 2015; Schreiber, Stein and Pütz 2016; Schröder 2016), or new socio-technical innovations in geography education (incl. MOOCS, GIS, GPS, and social media) certainly are interesting intersections that offer common ground for cross-disciplinary fertilization. The session opens up a space where the many existing (at times parallel) discourses may benefit from an open-minded exchange of ideas, theories, practices, and policies of research. It is our intention to productively take the discourses elsewhere (Gregson and Rose 2000): from a national to an international audience, from the narrow borderlines of disciplines to a exchange among (and beyond) geographers with various interests and backgrounds and live up to the claim of a geography that is not only transgressing, but actually may indeed be undoing borders

Broadly speaking the sessions will consider

  • What can be learnt through bringing geographies of education, young people’s geographies and geography education into dialogue?
  • How might the concerns and debates in international literature and language traditions, challenge and enliven Anglophone/international work and vice versa?

We would like to invite contributions that engage with these themes through issues such as, but not restricted to:

  • Spatial citizenship, geo-spatial learning and geocapabilities
  • Space, place and learning about geographies of difference, including education concerning gender, race, sexualities, dis/ability
  • Governmentality and sites of learning
  • Positionality of students, teachers and researchers exploring the possibilities and challenges of working at the borderlines of geography and didactics
  • Geo-politics of education, learning and geographical knowledge
  • Assemblage approaches to young people’s geographies and to their education and learning
  • Critical geographies of education, learning and young people including but not limited to responses to austerity, racism, and consumer culture.

We would particularly like to support participation from people of contexts affected by inequalities that make attendance challenging. We can explore means of achieving this, which could include pre-recorded video presentations or skype presentations.

If you are interested, please send a title, 250-word abstract and author details to: and/or The deadline for submission is 9th February 2018.


5. The absent presence of children and young people in everyday landscapes
Convenor: Professor John McKendrick, Glasgow Caledonian University, (

Tensions abound when making sense of children and young people in everyday environments. While some lament the withdrawal from public spaces of children and young people, particularly their independent (of adult) presence, others seek to curtail and constrain this on account of the dangers they are perceived to present and face. Similarly, multiple interpretations can be drawn from what are widely understood as “children’s spaces” in the built environment, with the playground, for example, understood by some to celebrate and valorise children’s right to public space, while others perceive it to be a tool to corral and constrain.   Or, does social media usage among teenagers constitute an absence-with-presence in the everyday environment or might it be a means to achieve presence-using-absence? These substantive issues are of interest to those who are concerned with the quality of children’s lives as lived and wider issues pertaining to childhood and society. These are also issues that have a wider theoretical reach. Do our understandings of childhood influence adults in “children’s spaces” when children are not present? Is there an absence of children, but an ever-present of childhood? Does the absence of children from everyday environments leave our understandings of childhood open to misinterpretation? This session seeks to advance our understanding of the everyday landscapes of childhood, reflecting on the substantive and theoretical challenges that present through children and young people’s absences and presences.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to John McKendrick ( by Friday 2nd February 2018. This should include title, author affiliation and email address.


6. The Super-diverse University?: Changing Landscapes of the Geographies of Higher Education
Convenor: Panagiota (Peny) Sotiropoulou, Loughborough University (
Kirsty Finn, Lancaster University (
Mark Holton, University of Plymouth (

Vertovec’s (2010) notion of ‘super-diversity’ has come to define contemporary Western societies. Alongside ethnocultural, socio-economic and religious diversity markers, other social identity markers such as notions of ‘hyper-diversity’, intersectionality and multiple inequalities, have prompted a broadening of conceptual understandings of diversity. Within higher education (HE) discourses, understanding diversities is recognised as vital to emerging academic and policy agendas (Valentine & Harris, 2016), particularly in terms of what we might consider ‘landscapes’ of (in)formal educational spaces (e.g. teaching spaces, libraries, accommodation, leisure spaces, Students’ Unions, chaplaincies etc.). As Holloway et al. (2010: 588) attest, HE institutions are embedded within “wider sets of social relations, [yet are] always in the making and thus potentially open to change” in relation to a multilayering of diverse cultures. This reflects not just official policies but also informal educators’ practices and diverse students’ cultures and experiences. Universities are consequently prominent spaces for the socio-cultural development of young people, influencing knowledge and identity formation; shaping behaviour and skill acquisition through formal and informal curricula (Collins & Coleman, 2008; Cook & Hemming, 2011; Gill, 2016; McCreary et al., 2013). This session will therefore seek to explore these changing landscapes of HE to critically examine the role of universities in preparing the new generation for ‘conviviality’ (or togetherness) (Nowicka & Vertovec, 2014) in multicultural societies.

Based on this, we invite contributions that examine how diversity is experienced and/or managed by the multiple actors involved in (in)formal HE spaces. This might include, but is not restricted to work attending to:

  • the experiences, emotions, lifestyles, perceptions and behaviour of diverse students preparing for, studying in, or reflecting up their university education;
  • a range of spatial scales of HE, from the locality of institutions to the intersections of global higher education networks;
  • a focus on inequalities in higher education that might impact upon opportunities for diverse students/academics.

Please email abstracts to, and by 31 January 2018.


7. Youth Politics in Urban Asia
Convenor: Sonia Lam-Knott, NUS, (
Yi’En Cheng, Yale-NUS College (

This session seeks to further ways of theorising as well as interrogating existing conceptual tools surrounding geographies of ‘youth politics’, broadly defined as the relationship between young people and their engagement with and/or performance of politics, specifically within Asia. While the majority of scholarship on youth politics focuses on the European and American contexts (Gordon, 2010; Kennelly, 2011) or on the Arab Spring (see Foran, 2014; Hanafi, 2012), 60 percent of the world’s youth reside in Asia (United Nations 2013). But how youths are to be positioned within the political domain of Asian societies remains an unresolved issue that have led to the eruption of youth-led contestations within the region’s urban centres, as seen from with the longstanding anti-government and anti-corruption protests across Indian, Thai, and Indonesian cities, and from the 2014 Sunflower Movement and Umbrella Movement in Taipei and Hong Kong respectively (Hsieh and Skelton, 2017). In addition to exploring youth politics, this session addresses the significance of the ‘urban’ by exploring the diverse but interconnected context of urban Asia, moving beyond the dominant geographical impressions, conjurings, and forms of cities. We are particularly keen to reframe urban contexts not just mere backdrops of youth actions, but as participants towards the making and shaping of youthful civic actions, activisms, mobilisations, and protests.

We envisage the session as an interdisciplinary platform to discuss and reflect on three central questions that would invigorate existing scholarship on youth, politics, and urban Asia:

  • How do youth politics emerge and manifest in Asian cities, in both historical and/or contemporary contexts, and in relation to diverse forms and expressions of what constitutes the ‘political’ for the young?
  • What is the role of cities in shaping, informing, and mediating youth politics, if we imagine urban contexts as actively (re)producing action and life itself?
  • Is it possible to conceive of a critical landscape and/or topography of youth politics in and across Asian cities, while acknowledging its multiplicities and specificities?

We invite papers that offer fresh materials, theoretically and empirically, towards advancing existing scholarship on youth politics in/across Asian cities, specifically with reference to the three central questions we raise in this session. Finalised list of session presenters are expected to submit a 4000-word working paper nearer to the conference date. This is to facilitate session discussion as well as publication plan for special issue.

Please email abstracts to and by 2 February 2018.

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