Feminism and the Politics of Childhood

Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or foes?
Workshop at UCL Institute of Education, London, UK, 16-17th November 2015

This workshop will bring together community- and university-based academics and activists to unpack perceived conflicts between children’s interests and women’s interests (which themselves are heterogeneous) and, more broadly, intersections and antagonisms between various forms of feminism and the politics of childhood.

The lives of women and children are deeply entangled and the way relations between them are conceptualized has implications for approaches to service provision, public education, and social movement building about critical issues including childcare, domestic work and global care chains, familial violence, and the division of labor. Children, to varying degrees, are positioned as primarily dependent and in need of care, and women take by far the greatest responsibility for this, whether in families, education, formal care settings, global care chains, and so on. Women and children have often been elided or linked ideologically. Both feminist and childhood scholars and activists have worked against this conflation, but, in so doing, have been criticized for portraying women and children’s interests as opposing and adversarial (Thorne, 1987). Feminist scholars have argued that prioritizing children’s rights has led to increases in women’s ascribed responsibilities for children’s wellbeing (Molyneux, 2006; Newberry, 2014) and that rising attention to “the child” in the policy arena has side-lined women’s citizenship demands (Dobrowolsky and Jenson, 2004). Childhood theorists have commented that feminism is an “adultist” enterprise, rendering children largely absent from the social world and sociological consideration except as objects of social reproduction (Mayall, 2002). Concerns have been raised that this antagonism reduces the complexity of adult-child relations – which include joy, love, reciprocal concern, and solidarity – solely to that of work and burden (Riley, 1987).

Until now, there has been limited attention to the ways these perceived antipathies might be addressed (but see Alanen, 1994; Burman, 2008; Oakley, 1994; Thorne, 1987). We propose to use this workshop as a means to initiate such a dialogue. We are inviting abstracts which address the following, or other relevant, themes:
• How do we ensure the well-being of children and women, particularly in contexts where their interests may (appear to) be in conflict?
• How might a conversation between feminism and the politics of childhood reconcile these tensions?
o Are women’s and children’s interests necessarily opposed or inevitably linked?
o What are the consequences of denaturalizing motherhood and childhood for women and children?
o How do we conceptualize women and children’s involvement in creating a gendered and generationed social order?
• What are the implications of theorizing women and children together?
o Does discussing women and children together reify their relationship?
o Where do men, the state, and society fit?
o To what extent does this reinforce compulsory heterosexuality?

To promote in-depth discussion and debate, workshop spaces will be limited to a small number of presenters and participants. Working papers of no more than 4000 words will be pre-circulated. At the workshop, each presenter will give a short synopsis which will be followed by discussion. We anticipate producing an edited volume from the workshop. All participants (including presenters) will be charged a nominal fee of £20.

To apply to present: Please send titles and abstracts of no more than 250 words to r.rosen@ioe.ac.uk by 15th August 2015 (Subject line: PRESENTER Feminism and Childhood). Full papers will be due 26th October 2015.

To apply to participate: If you wish to participate in the workshop as a non-presenter, please submit an expression of interest of no more than 250 words outlining relevant academic and/or community-based experience to r.rosen@ioe.ac.uk by 30th September 2015 (Subject line: PARTICIPANT Feminism and Childhood).

Hosted by the Childhood and Gender Stream (Social Science Research Unit) and Gender and Sexuality Studies, UCL.

CFP: Child Displacement, Appropriation and Circulation

Workshop: Child displacement, appropriation and circulation: management techniques aimed at children and their families in environments of inequality and violence

1ª Bienal Latinoamericana de Infancias y Juventudes
Manizales, Colombia
17th-21st November 2014

In Latin America, such as in other regions of the world, armed conflicts, dictatorships, political repression, the devastation produced by wars and the development of diverse mechanisms of reproductive government (Morgan & Roberts 2012) have resulted in the displacement and/or separation of numerous children from their birth families. Either through national or international adoption, foster care, and institutionalization or through the appropriation and substitution of their identities, many children have been placed in family, cultural and/or national environments that are different from those of their birth environment. Aiming at different objectives according to the diverse socio-historical and political contexts, such usually coactive practices, in some cases unprecedented, were combined with governmentality techniques (bureaucratic and judicial procedures) and long-standing “life policies” (Fassin 2007) (customary ways of thinking and social ideas on the “protection” and “salvation” of children and their families and/or communities). These were extended and widely accepted thanks to “truth systems” (Foucault, 1978), anchored to (disciplinary) morality standards through which private reproductive behaviors and their public expressions can be governed.

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Reproductive Tourism: Cross-Border Travel for Abortion and Fertility Services

Reproductive Tourism: Cross-border travel for abortion and fertility services
Edited by Christabelle Sethna and Gayle Davis

In recent years, there has been an awakening of academic and media interest in the concept of medical tourism. Medical tourism, involving travel to obtain medical services outside one’s healthcare jurisdiction, has been characterised as a major transnational growth industry and one which raises fascinating and challenging logistical, legal and ethical questions.

However, among its current weaknesses, the existing literature fails to explore adequately the gendered dimensions of medical tourism, particularly the travel of women. Thus, we currently know little specifically about women’s access to medical services within this medical tourism framework.

A particular area of health care which demands to be addressed through this gendered lens is reproductive tourism. Reproductive tourism is considered a subset of medical tourism, but it is too often associated narrowly with travel to help women designated infertile conceive a child.

The reproductive tourism that we want to examine involves cross-border travel for abortion and fertility services. Given the significant number of women who seek out both of these services and the complex issues which each raises, a collection focusing on women’s cross-border travel, both domestic and international, for the purposes of abortion and/or fertility services, will fill a major gap in the literature on medical tourism.

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Theorizing Childhood: Citizenship, Rights, Participation

Call for Papers
Sociology of Childhood – Theorizing Childhood: Citizenship, Rights, Participation

The Research Network, Sociology of Children and Childhood hereby announces the mid-term symposium which will take place in Modena (Italy) from 21st to 23rd May, 2014. The organisation of the symposium will be undertaken at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

The focus of the symposium will be on theorizing childhood, in particular the areas of citizenship, rights and participation, exploring the different and various perspectives that can include these topics in the broader field of childhood studies and Sociology.

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Childhood and Gender in Time

CALL FOR PAPERS: Genesis on Childhood and Gender in Time

The journal Genesis. Rivista della Società Italiana delle Storiche calls for papers for a special issue dedicated to “childhood and gender in time.”

The nature of childhood and its significance as a separate phase of life are at the centre of a process of critical rethinking, which is generating new and challenging interdisciplinary research. We would like to explore the social construction of gender in childhood, from a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, giving particular attention to the role of play, toys, and children’s literature. Our aim is to examine how gender norms and gender models have been formulated and propagated in different historical, geographical and cultural contexts, but also how those models have been appropriated, contested and possibly subverted. We are interested in the relationship between the effort of regulating children and the “agency” that children are able to express, particularly in the context of a children’s peer culture, in which play (broadly understood) has a central role.

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