All SHCY members receive the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Published three times a year, it features scholarly research and critical book reviews.

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May  18

CHC Episode 13: Becoming An Historian of Childhood

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

Conversation Transcript
Transcript coming soon!

Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan

In 2014, I chaired a search committee for a tenure-track position.  We received 112 complete applications.  Of these about 100 fit the formal qualifications, and over 30 presented profiles that included prizes, awards, and peer-reviewed publications.  My records indicate that 49 candidates were ranked by at least one committee member in the top-12 (while 21 were so ranked by two or more members).

In hyper-competitive situations, decision-making begins to feel arbitrary; at best, delicate phrases like “departmental fit” gain a stronger foothold. 

Rejection_Letter_1998I recall the predictions of the early 1990s.  A wave of faculty retirements would open-up career opportunities for younger academics.  Things would get better.  How long could they remain as they were in 1998 when Columbia’s Alan Brinkley kindly explained to me that their job-search had been swamped with over 400 applicants?[1]  Since then, many have come to the conclusion that the difficulties facing new PhDs will persist as long as scholarly labour is organized as a pyramid of excellence supplied according to an ethos of educational opportunity.

Though varying by state or province, North American funding formulas historically encouraged institutions to increase graduate enrolment or rewarded them for producing advanced degrees.[2]  Student choice, bolstered by various government assistance programs, informed by free, independent information about costs and quality remains the American way to regulate enrolment and program quality.  Alternatives to this are not obviously better – at least to me.  If we impose limits upon the production of graduate degrees by projecting demands for workers with a given level of training other questions arise.[3]  Would such a system respond to change well?  Do we want the university be an instrument of the labour market as determined by governmental rationality?  How would over-arching metrics value basic (non-instrumental), subversive, or unpopular research programmes in the arts, humanities, and social sciences?

History_Phd_Overproduction_USdata

If solutions are not immediately available, there has been a general recognition that graduate education in the humanities deserves re-examination.[4]  Completing the doctorate in history usually takes 7 or 8 years.  But only half of American graduate students who pursue it succeed; and, this seems to be an historically high rate of success.  For every two new PhDs in history, each year American universities advertise less than one academic position.  Unfortunately, it appears that many (about a third) of these full-time positions are limited-term and/or non-tenure-track.[5]

A clear statistical picture has been difficult to assemble, but my guess is that perhaps two or three full-time, tenure-track positions are available for each class of sixteen doctoral students in history.[6]  The odds are lower for the majority of them, because the appointment rate is skewed in favour of the most prestigious programs.  There is also tremendous variation by specialization and period.  This daunting portrait of full-time and tenure-track employment scarcity frames a set of labour disputes and debates.

Since 1975 the proportion of persons working part-time in American faculties of higher education has swelled from about 23% to about 42%.[7]  According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2009 three-quarters of the U.S. instructional workforce in higher education was employed in contingent, non-tenure track, often part-time teaching positions.  This second figure, lumps everyone together – from graduate students marking papers to emeriti teaching a single class.  Statistical snapshots of this messy business make it appear cleaner and more transparent than it is.  Those who have worked as a ‘part-timer’ or hired them (I have done both) know the underbelly of a system where ABD and new PhDs teach for years while they attempt to complete their dissertations or book projects with a piecemeal combination of small grants and short-term teaching contracts.  For these people class size is large, instructional support is weak, and benefits are scarce.  In 2009, about 40% of them reported having no health insurance.[8]

PTTF_US_Conditions

In a recent report to the AHA, Wood and Townsend emphasized that general unemployment for those who earn doctorates in history is very low – as it is throughout the social sciences and humanities.[9]  Yet, the primary questions are not about whether someone who holds a masters or doctoral degree in literature, sociology, philosophy, or history can find any job.  They are about the teaching load, pay, benefits, security, and likelihood of progression for those occupying the lower levels of the academic hierarchy in the Universities and Colleges where most of us work.

Should students accept a merry-go-round of insecurity to take a stab at the brass ring?

This question underlies the dissatisfaction across North American campuses, and fuels events such as National Adjunct Walkout Day (Feb. 25, 2015), the NLRB’s recent decision to review the rights of graduate assistants to unionize, and a long line of disputes and organizing efforts at places as different as Yale, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, NYU, Bentley University (Boston), UC-Berkeley, and the University of Toronto.

While union activity, professional organization, and public policy are the means for improving the conditions described above, I wonder how students completing their doctorates in history today view the situation.  What implications do these pressures have for an emergent field like the history of childhood and youth?  To explore these questions, in March of 2015 I interviewed two students whose academic work seemed strong to me – but with whom I had no previous connection.

Stephanie McBride-Schreiner is a student of Rachel Fuchs and earned her PhD in November of 2014 from Arizona State University’s school of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious studies.  Her dissertation was entitled, “Medicalizing Childhood: Pediatrics, Public Health, and Children’s Hospitals in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London.”  She is pursuing a career in academic publishing and public education.

Kristen McCabe Lashua will defend her dissertation in April 2015 at the University of Virginia’s Corcoran Department of History.  She is working with legal historian Paul Holliday and her dissertation is entitled, “Children at the Birth of Empire, 1600-1760.”  She has recently landed a tenure-track position at a small liberal arts college in southern California.

I asked them to situate their doctoral research; I was especially interested in why they came to explore the history of childhood.  The stories they tell (of course) are particular, but they share characteristics with other scholars who have appeared on CHC.  They emphasized that the “sources” and the experience of archival research was the primary reason why historical questions about children became significant for them.

Stephanie described a movement from a career in organizations advocating for and helping children toward an historical interest in these social policies.  Along the way, her focus began to shift toward the people utilizing institutions – including the children.   Kristen described having an interest in empire and the Atlantic world, but she found something unexpected:  the program of the Virginia Company to bind-out pauper children and youths to colonial households.  Paying attention to childhood opened up a set of questions about American settlement, labour, and philanthropy that she had not previously considered.

Stephanie and Kristen do not speak about their research instrumentally – as a career.  Nor, did they say their interest in childhood flowed from established structures, programs, or organizations.  It was a “journey of discovery” to borrow Stephanie’s phrase.  Their work became meaningful as it helped them make sense of the world.  It seems to me that narrating our efforts in this way lies at the heart of modern scholarly, artistic, and scientific ethos.  Academics might be alienated from some aspects of the educational system, but we personally identify with our research.  We are supposed to be icons of DWYL mantra (do what you love) despite the state of things.

Some have argued that these scholarly sensibilities explain why adjuncts and part-timers remain in unfavourable relations of labour.  It is like being in a bad marriage.  By the time new PhDs arrive at the limited-term or part-time teaching juncture, they have invested so much energy, time, and resources in their journey that heading in a new direction would be like abandoning who they have become.

There is merit to this argument, but it seems a bit over the top to position graduate students and new PhDs as “indentured servants” labouring under a false consciousness.  Some portray them as victims of an “academic cult”  who need “de-programming.”  If this is a fair way to frame the problem – I must be brain-washed too.  Is it foolish to seek a critical distance from a  world of governmental techniques and market measures – or – to value the pursuit of knowledge more than material wealth?  I know – it is easy for tenured faculty to mouth such lofty thoughts.  But, should we attack these ideals as if they merely justified relations of domination?[10]  If seeking work as a labour of love makes one vulnerable to inequity and more willing to endure insecurity, it seems perverse to locate the fault in the bonds of our affections.  Are they not the angels of our better natures?

Admittedly, the academy should not be painted as a peaceable kingdom.  Stephanie and Kristen have not been hoodwinked by any such imagery.  Stephanie indicated that her research experience had a transformative quality, but the University never became a limit to her horizons.  This might be partly due to her experience prior to graduate studies, but she credits the public history program at ASU with helping her develop alternative career paths.  She initially thought of these courses as a “safety valve,” but she found the work in museums and in academic publishing stimulating and rewarding.

Kristen addressed the campus conflict and job scarcity directly.  It is an emotional trap, she explained, to wear a stigma of failure if you never gain a tenure-track job at a “Research-I” university.  These opportunities simply are too few.  She also rejected the argument (with its legal implications) that graduate studies is an apprenticeship that justifies current conditions.  Since future returns are unlikely or significantly limited, the demand for programs and institutions to treat students as rights-bearing workers becomes compelling.

Professional associations, universities, and graduate programs are trying to respond to the larger structural problems.  Kristen indicated in the years she has been at the University of Virginia, the graduate program substantially reduced enrolment (from the low twenties to around ten per class).  Similar reductions have been announced at other schools since the economic collapse of 2008.

For a long time I have hoped for more positive alternatives.  Might developing masters programs in history that include teacher certification, broaden the career options for PhD students who find themselves at a dead-end?  Unfortunately, the requirements of teacher certification currently have very little to do with academic training in the scholarly disciplines.  A lot rests on the wall separating the two.  Even if this changed, a colleague recently reminded me that secondary schools are not exactly begging for more applicants.

These issues do not have easy solutions.  Perhaps this is partly because of the complacency of the professoriate.  Yet – government spending priorities and demographically-driven enrolment patterns frame the situation too.  We also have conflicting ideas about what the University is supposed to do for people.  If you think the global expansion of opportunity in higher education (for which the U.S. provided the model after WWII) remains a praiseworthy project, it will be difficult to celebrate a massive reduction in access to graduate programs in the social sciences and humanities.  Some may respond to the crisis by writing blogs listing “100 reasons not to go to graduate school.”  For others, it will remain difficult to imagine who we might have become, had we not.
[i] Between 1998-02, I conducted an aggressive search for positions in American history, social policy, and education — applying for about 50 positions in each annual cycle.  Reviewing my records, many the responses I received indicated that the search committee had received over 100 applications – the high was 1,200 reported by the University of Minnesota.
[ii] See Michael S. Teitelbaum, Falling Behind?:  Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent (PA:  Princeton University Press, 2014): 155-171.
[iii] These issues are complex.  See Maresi Nerad and Barbara Evans, eds., Globalization and Its Impacts on the Quality of PhD Education:  Forces and Forms in Doctoral Education Worldwide (Sense Publishers, 2014).
[iv] Ronald G. Ehrenberg et al, Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humantities  (Princeton, 2010).
[v] A slightly more favourable estimate is offered by L. Maren Wood and Robert B. Townsend, “The Many Careers of History PhDs:  A Study of Job Outcomes, Spring 2013,”.   Even according to them, if around 75% of Ph.D.s land some sort of academic position, only two-thirds of these are in tenure-track 4-year schools.  And these figures seem difficult to explain if the production of doctoral degrees in history is double all academic positions in the discipline (including the limited-term appointments).  See:  http://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/the-2013-jobs-report-number-of-aha-ads-dip-new-experiment-offers-expanded-view

[vi] You will find vastly varying estimates based upon slight different ways to pose this question.  I followed this logic:  (1) half of the doctoral students in history never complete the degree; (2) universities provide teaching/research positions for less than half of these; (3) and about 1/3 of these positions are non-tenure track.
[vii] See John W. Curtis and Saranna Thornton, “Here’s the News: Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2012-13,” Academe (March-April, 2013): 7.
[viii]According to Coalition on the Academic Workforce, “A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members” (June 2012) four out of five part-time temporary faculty had been in this situation for three or more years (over half for six or more years).  Also see Robert Townsend, “Underpaid and Underappreciated: A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty” Perspectives on History (Sept 2012).
[ix] I respect Townsend’s and Wood’s expertise in this area, but I have several concerns about “The Many Careers.”  First, it is not clear how we should interpret high rates of employment in diverse careers for those who hold the doctorate in history.  One might think that a general weakness in the profession creates an environment where many who earn the highest academic qualifications in our discipline have to do whatever they can to get along.  We end-up everywhere.  Second, I have questions about their data collection methods.  A reliance on the AHA directory and social networks online for professional data might bias the sample toward those who are successful and/or trying to stay in the game.  Third, the report avoids critical comparative questions about differential economic outcomes or labour conditions.  For talented middle-class young people in affluent societies there is a choice: sales, business, management, law, social work, medicine, science, scholarship, the arts?  U.S. labour statistics suggest that post-secondary teachers face substantially higher levels of insecurity and lower returns than those who hold comparably advanced credentials.  For example, in the years following 2008 the National Association for Law Placement in the U.S.  wrote a series of alarming reports because “1st-year-out” employment requiring the Bar began a multi-year decline from 75-65 percent.  A direct comparison for historians isn’t possible, but one could read Wood’s and Townsend’s data as suggesting that the odds of landing a position practicing law after passing the Bar (even after the ‘collapse’) remain 30-50% higher in the first year out than they are for the first 10 years out pursuing a secure academic position in History.  The defense that historians have many options outside the academy doesn’t hold water, because the same applies to many professions – especially those holding the JD who have passed the Bar.
[x] Maresi Nerad and Joseph Cerny, “From Rumors to Facts: Career Outcomes of English Ph.D.s,” Communicator v. 32 (Fall 1999): 1-11;

Kristen McCabe Lashua

About Kristen McCabe Lashua

Kristen McCabe Lashua completed her doctorate at the University of Virginia’s Corcoran Department of History in May 2015. Her dissertation, “Children at the Birth of Empire, c. 1600-1760,” explored the use of destitute children in the creation of the early British empire. She looks forward to beginning an assistant professorship next Fall with the History and Political Science Department at Vanguard University of Southern California.

Stephanie McBride-Schreiner

About Stephanie McBride-Schreiner

Stephanie McBride-Schreiner earned her doctorate in Modern European History from Arizona State University in December 2014. Her dissertation is titled, “Medicalizing Childhood: Pediatrics, Public Health, and Children’s Hospitals in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London.” Her research interests include the history of medicine, childhood, gender, and families.

May  05

CHC Episode 12: Governmentality

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

Audio of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Karen Smith

Conversation Transcript
Transcript coming soon!

Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan

Karen Smith’s The Government of Childhood: Discourse Power, and Subjectivity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) provides a synthesis of three major bodies of literature: (1) the governmentality studies inspired by the later works of Michel Foucault [1]; (2) the sociology of childhood – utilizing Christ Jenks’ distinction between the Dionysian and Apollonian images of the child [2]; (3) and vast range of works in the history of ideas and politics – with a particular debt to the work of Michael Allen Gillespie. [3] I was struck by the range of Karen’s competencies and her ability to forge links between distinct – sometime difficult – fields of study. Her notes alone (over 1,600 of them) should be useful for anyone interested in the many intersections between the history of childhood, the sociology of childhood, governmentality studies, political theology, social policy & legal studies, and related fields.

Cover art for Government of ChildhoodThe central claim of The Government of Childhood is historical: contemporary childhood can not be adequately grasped without an appreciation of the rise of biopower and the “governmentalized” state during the early modern period. Here, Karen sees herself following a “well-trodden” path. This is true, but she does so by navigating existing research in interesting ways. Her synthesis utilizes an impressive range of existing historical literature on childhood, families, and the state to outline what the concept of governmentality implies for childhood. In doing this, she draws upon Gillespie’s Theological Origins of Modernity (which might be read along side other important synthetic works, such as Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age or Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve). Her efforts carry two important implications: (1) secular modernity can not longer be imagined simplistically as the death of God. By extension contemporary childhood is recognizable only if one has a better understanding of the theological politics of modernity; (2) the history of ideas and discursive practices is indispensable when we address larger questions about the shape of modern childhood as a whole. [4]

The book recounts the ways renaissance humanism, the Protestant reformation, and enlightenment science contributed to an increasingly intense concern with childhood socialization. These movements arose as part of a shift in pastoral religious forms and state sovereignty and produced novel disciplinary armaments. These disciplinary techniques thrived most notably within changes to schools and families between the 15th and 18th centuries. Drawing on Foucault, she writes about the movement of the family serving as a “model” corresponding to the state’s sovereign power toward it becoming a “tool” in the state’s package of governmental regulations.

The Government of Childhood argues that the increasing disciplinary sophistication of early modern schools and families strengthened and drew upon an image of children as wilful, pleasure seeking, and irrational. Karen uses terms first advanced by Chris Jenks to name this image, the Dionysian child. In my own view, there was an ancient association between the child and irrational folly. What seems more novel and disruptive is the early-modern confrontation between the rationalist/reformer Dionysian images of childhood and their Apollonian opposites: the romantic pictures of children innocent of passion and jealousy, authentic, and well-ordered from birth. Be this as it may, the book persuasively situates Jenks’ Dionysian-Appollonian contrast historically. The Dionysian image of childhood becomes intensified during the 16th- and 17th-centuries, before the development of a Apollonian response in 18th- and 19th-century childhood thought and practice. The well-known contrast between rationalism and romanticism would be a sensible way capture the timeline. The book’s description of the opening-up of a Dionysian-Apollonian opposition suggests that it has been a point of long-term continuity working itself into the present. The two might be thought of as part of a conditioning-authenticity couplet. [5]

In the last chapter of the book, “Governing the Responsible Child,” Smith argues that a late-20th-century shift toward seeing children as competent agents who participate in their own representation altered and partially displaced the structure of discourse framed by the Dionysian-Apollonian dialectic. Indeed, some have hailed that a “paradigm shift” as happened when we see children as social subjects. And they tie this shift to a ‘new sociology of childhood.’ [6] To capture this movement, Smith names the agentive child, the child as a social actor, an Athenian child.

I asked her why she chose the term “Athenian.” If the Dionysian-Apollonian childhood opposition developed from the early-modern shift within Christian pastoralism which produced disciplinary forms of power, I wonder if she might be suggesting that the contemporary agentive child has a family resemblance to what Foucault called the games of citizenship rooted in the ancient polis – Athens primary among them? [7] Karen did not have that connection in mind; she was thinking of the story of Athena – a god who emerged fully formed from the forehead of her father – Zeus. The Athenian child is a figure who has little use for growing up.

It seems to me that by casting a major theme within contemporary childhood research as a pre-figuring category of a child born fully formed, Smith has presented an important opportunity for researchers to rethink their assumptions. While reading the book, I thought there might be a potential bite to this concept that was not fully delivered. Implicitly the Athenian child historicises the promises of progress that are advanced when social scientists say they offer a new and improved (or post-whatever) way to explore childhood.

This is only my reading of what the Athenian child might do, and I am not neutral on these matters. When I asked Karen Smith about this, she wished to specify the target carefully. Calling attention to the uncritical ways that the idea of the agentive child can be utilized, she said:

“It’s really easy for discourses around children’s agency to get colonized and… taken-up within discursive strategies that are rooted in salvation and malleability and potentiality. So [the Athenian child] is not necessarily a critique of the new sociology of childhood (which I find very stimulating and interesting) but perhaps I suppose there’s a neglect in some of the childhood literature in terms of the link between freedom and agency and the exercise of power… I think there’s probably a political naiveté in some of this literature… [but] it is incredibly difficult to untangle ourselves from relations of power-knowledge at any point in time.”

She continued by pointing-out that the governmentality literature casts a light upon the links between an essentialist understanding of human agency and neo-liberal politics. In the United States, and increasingly in Europe, she emphasized that social policy “…is very much rooted in activation, and individual responsibility for self-improvement.” Whatever merits these ideas have, they occlude the operation of power-knowledge under modernity. In Smith’s words, “…what the new sociology of the child hasn’t done is help us escape very far from the liberal model of subjectivity… it’s challenging it, but it doesn’t represent a serious enough challenge to it.”

In sum, The Government of Childhood takes on a wide range of ideas across multiple disciplinary concerns. The scope of reading required to compose such a book is impressive. From my perspective, the result draws forth a couple of significant themes. It advances the notion that a serious engagement with the history of ideas is a fruitful avenue for the critical interdisciplinary study of childhood.   In the process, it also calls childhood scholars to reconsider the liberal maxim that research should proceed around the circle that children are best understood as competent agents who make their own worlds.

Recent articles and chapters by Karen Smith:

Smith, K. “Producing Governable Subjects: Images of Childhood Old and New” Childhood: a journal of global research vol. 19, no. 1 (2012):24-37.

Smith, K. “Sociological Perspectives on Childhood” in Early Childhood Education and Care: An Introduction for Students in Ireland edited by M. Mhic Mhathúna and M. Taylor (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2012).


 

[1] In addition to leading interpretations and applications provided by Mitchell Dean, Colin Gordon, and Nikolas Rose, those interested in governmentality should see Picador’s excellent series that reconstructs and translates the lectures given by Foucault at The Collège de France from 1972-1984. Several of these books are of acutely important here, including: Society Must Be Defended (1975-76); Security, Territory, Population (1977-78); The Birth of Biopolitics (1978-79).
[2] Chris Jenks, Childhood second edition (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005).
[3] Michael Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
[4] Gillespie’s work is utilized conceptually throughout, but see especially The Government of Childhood, 76-101.
[5] See Patrick J. Ryan, “Discursive Tensions on the Landscape of Modern Childhood,” Educare Vetenskapliga Skrifter (2011: 2): 11-37.
[6] For a review see, Patrick J. Ryan, “How New is the ‘New’ Social Studies of Childhood? The Myth of a Paradigm Shift,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 38, no. 4 (Spring, 2008): 553-576.
[7] Foucault formulates the contrast between pastoral power (shepherd-flock game) and the polis (city-citizenship game) in Security, Territory, and Populations edited by Michel Senelbart, trans. Graham Burchell (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Karen Smith

About Karen Smith

Karen Smith lectures on social policy/childhood studies at Dublin Institute of Technology and on childhood inequality in University College Dublin. She has carried out detailed studies of child/family law and policy in Ireland over the last hundred years. Her recent work applies Foucauldian perspectives to the study of childhood in the West from the sixteenth-century to the present.

Apr  22

CFP: Memories of (post) Socialist Childhood and Schooling

This book aims to bring together those who had first-hand experiences with and accounts of (post)socialist schooling and childhood as cultural insiders to engage in remembering and (re)narrating their experiences. We understand —memory not as history but as “a lived process of making sense of time and the experience of it” to explore “relations between public and private life, agency and power, and the past, present and future” (Keightley, 2010, p. 55-56). The focus is on the exploration of how childhood and schooling were constituted and experienced in (post)socialist contexts and (re)narrated at the present. Childhood as a socio-historical construct provides an analytical incision into the social issues and concerns regarding historical socialism, cultural/ideological changes, and subject formation. As Gonick & Gannon (2014, p.6) argue, “rather than truth of particular lives, … we are interested in using memory stories to examine the ways in which individuals are made social, how we are discursively, affectively, materially constituted in particular moments that are inherently unstable” and to open up ways to explore “how things come to matter in the ways they do” (Davies et al., 2013).

For more information or to express your interest to participate in this book project, please contact Iveta Silova (isilova@gmail.com), Zsuzsa Millei (zsuzsa.millei@uta.fi), Olena Aydarova (aydarova@msu.edu).

Full details are available in a downloadable PDF of the Call for Chapters.

Apr  20

CHC Episode 11: Relation and Belonging

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

Conversation Transcript
Transcript coming soon!

Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan

This June 24-26, between 230 and 250 delegates will meet at the University of British Columbia for the 8th biennial conference of the Society for the History of Children and Youth. I discussed the conference with Mona Gleason, incoming President of the Society, who chaired the Organizing Committee (which included her UBC colleagues Tamara Meyers and Leslie Paris).
UBC campus at duskWhen Mona reflected the call for sessions organized around the theme of belonging and relationships, she explained that the University rests on Point Greyunceded, ancestral lands of the Musqueam people. British Columbia (despite what its name announces to the neighbouring U.S. state – Washington) is a place where the negotiation of sovereignty – between diverse peoples and with the land itself – is ongoing. Settlement is not settled in Canada. This produces a way of being in “relationship” that troubles fixed, imperial, uniform notions of nationalism. The conference organizers hoped to call forth historical work that explores the ways children and youth have confronted and helped fashion such a world: global, multi-cultural, liminal, unstable, transnational.

The three-day conference will offer about 60 sessions vetted by a committee of Marcia Chatelain (Georgetown University), Shurlee Swain (Australian Catholic University), Judith Lind (Linköping University), David Pomfret, (University of Hong Kong), and Ishita Pande (Queen’s University). As I looked over Preliminary-Program-SHCY-2015-March-24-201512.pdf, and considered Mona’s explanation of the conference theme, I saw its initial impact. While we will have plenty of topical variety, words like migration, colonialism, empire, transnational, global, citizenship, becoming, mobilization, representation, relation, memory, negotiation, identity, reciprocity, and performance fill the titles. The keynote lecturer – Karen Dubinsky – is well-situated to address these terms and concepts. She is author and editor of numerous books, including the 2010 Babies without Borders: Adoption and Migration Across the Americas (Univ. of Toronto) and the collection with Adele Perry and Henry Yu Within and Without the Nation: Transnational Canadian History (Univ. of Toronto, 2015).

In addition to the academic content of the sessions, Mona, Tamara, and Leslie thought about other ways the conference might help build relationships between scholars. Of course, we will have 1/2-hour coffee breaks between sessions, an evening reception on Wednesday, the Society business meeting during lunch on Thursday, and a conference Banquet on Thursday night. But, a couple of new events will appear too. Following the Banquet, we’ll have a dance — that — ought to be entertaining. There will also be a “join SHCY” luncheon on Friday where Jim Marten will provide an update on the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth.

Friday’s luncheon responds to one of the Society’s ongoing challenges – maintaining membership. It confronts all scholarly organizations. Our ability to run the journal, hold conferences, provide prizes for excellent work, collaborate with other organizations, and assist graduate students rests upon attracting dues-paying members. I asked Mona about other things she would like to put on the Society’s agenda as she begins her tenure as President. She named three: inviting/developing new leaders, establishing policies around endorsements, and creating a guide for conference planning. You can listen to our conversation above.

Aerial photo of UBC campusAs I write this report in a still-frozen Ontario March, with the coldest February on record chattering in my bones, I admit that some of my plans for SHCY-2015 are decidedly unprofessional. How pleasant will the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest be? From afar the UBC campus seems to be surrounded by lush parks, misty trails, sandy beaches, and (moving) water. Perhaps I’ll take a walk through the Nitobe Memorial Gardens on campus. The UBC Bike Kitchen rents bicycles, but runners might want to scout-out courses along nearby Jericho Beach or take a jog through Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Mona recommended visiting the University’s renowned Museum of Anthropology.

Beyond the campus, metropolitan Vancouver offers numerous opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and other adventures. You might even come across urban bald eagles if you take a stroll through beautiful Stanley Park, which boasts 400-hectares of rainforest, beaches, waterfront vistas, and more.

Photo of Vancouver skylineDowntown is a short 20-minute drive or 40-minute bus-ride from campus. It offers a variety of excellent restaurants, including the Bluewater Cafe + Raw Bar (Seafood), Chef Tony Seafood (Chinese), My Shanti (Indian), Mr. Red Cafe (Vietnamese), Absinthe Bistro (French), and Ask for Luigi (Italian). On your way downtown, you might visit Granville Island – an industrial site revamped for tourism – offering a farmer’s market, craft vendors, shops, galleries, and other entertainments.

Make your plans, extend your stay if you can, and consider becoming part of the Society.

Mona Gleason

About Mona Gleason

Mona Gleason is President-Elect of SHCY and the host for the 2015 conference at the University of British Columbia. She is the author and/or editor of seven books, including Normalizing the Ideal: Psychology, Schooling, and the Family in Postwar Canada (University of Toronto Press, 1999); Small Matters: Canadian Children in Sickness and Health, 1900-1940 (McGill-Queens University Press, 2013).

Apr  13

CFP: International Girls Studies Association’s Inaugural Conference

The International Girls’ Studies Association are seeking submissions for our inaugural conference from April 7 – 9th 2016 at the University of East Anglia. The inaugural conference seeks to bring together researchers and students working on girls and girlhood in any part of the world and in any discipline or interdisciplinary field.

Girls’ Studies has become one of the most dynamic academic fields, encompassing a vast array of disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches. This conference aims to bring together scholars from across the world to explore experiences of girlhood, recent developments within the field, investigating new questions and revisiting historical issues.

We seek proposals that address some of the key issues in girls studies and we welcome both individual and panel presentations. Moreover, we are also keen to move beyond the traditional conference format and would encourage collaborative work, creative, visual, screenings and performance based work. We are also keen to invite proposals from individuals working in collaboration with girls, the community and partner organisations.

Topics may include (but are not limited to)
· Histories of girlhood
· Global girlhood(s)
· Intersectional girlhood
· Queer girls
· Representation of girlhood
· Intergenerational girlhoods
· Girlhood and consumption
· Mediated girlhoods
· Methodological approaches to girls’ studies
· Girls and feminism
· Girls and sport
· Girls and politics
· Girls and education
· Young femininities
· Body image
· Subcultures and girlhood
· Girls and digital media
· Girls and activism
· Girls and literature
· Girls and popular culture
· Girlhood during austerity
· Girls and sexuality
· Girls and health
· Neoliberal girlhoods
· Ethnographies of girlhood

Submissions:
Abstracts of 250 words, proposals for pre-constituted panels (250 words per panellist) and proposals for creative and alternative presentations (250 words) should be sent to igsa.2016@uea.ac.uk by 1st September 2015. All submissions should be accompanied by brief bio.

Any questions or queries can be sent to igsa.2016@uea.ac.uk.

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