Autumn Seminar 2016

Wednesday November 2nd

Peter Kraftl, Professor of Human Geography, University of Birmingham
Time: 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Location: G.16, Brooks Building, MMU

Alter-childhoods, After Childhood? (Re)Theorising the Geographies of Alternative Education

The ultimate aim of this paper is to develop a (nascent) argument about what childhood studies might look like 'after childhood'. I begin by briefly discussing recent conceptual debates about a so-called 'new wave' or 'infra-paradigm' of childhood studies. In the main part of the paper, I offer a sympathetic and constructive engagement with this 'new wave', which has generally focussed upon the status of biopolitics, materialities and biosocial dualisms in children's lives. In the course of this engagement, I examine what I call “alter-childhoods”: explicit attempts to imagine, construct, talk about, and put into practice childhoods that differ from perceived (neoliberal) mainstreams. My argument is based upon over a decade's worth of research at 59 alternative education spaces in the UK, including Steiner, Montessori, Democratic and Forest Schools, Care Farms and Homeschooling. I focus on two key themes: materialities and (non)human bodies; intimacy, love and the human scale. Following my analyses, I argue that biosocial frames of reference that are predominant in the 'new wave' of childhood studies are both flawed and limited. Based upon these arguments - and some broader, albeit tentative, ruminations - I begin to sketch out the possibilities for a childhood studies 'after' childhood.

Short Biography
Peter Kraftl is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Birmingham. He is also an Honorary Professor at the School of Education, RMIT, Melbourne. He has three major research interests: children's geographies and childhood studies; geographies of education, and especially alternative education; geographies of architecture. He has published six books and over 60 journal articles and book chapters, many of which explore the intersection of these three areas of scholarship. He is Editor of Area and Children's Geographies, and Series Editor for Routledge's new Spaces of Childhood and Youth series. He is currently working on an ESRC/FAPESP/Newton-funded project exploring young people's experiences of and learning about the food/water/energy nexus in Brazil.