General Information

The landscape of child studies has changed.  The Childhoods Conference: Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood is meant to engage scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of academic disciplines and institutions to consider the state of child studies in Canada.

Conference Structure:

  • 3 days of concurrent panels
  • 2 poster sessions
  • 5 keynote speakers featuring:
    Dr. Patrizia Albanese: Department of Sociology, Ryerson University
    Dr. Mona Gleason: Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia
    Dr. Mavis Reimer: Canada Research Chair in the Culture of Childhood; Director of the Centre for Research in Young People's Texts and Cultures, University of Winnipeg
    Dr. Allison James: Editor of Childhood and Society; Director of the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, University of Sheffield; Vice-President of the International Child and Youth Research Network (Elected 2008-11)
    Dr. Perry Nodelman: Professor Emeritus, University of Winnipeg
  • 3 practitioner sessions:
    Digital Bullying, moderated by Dr. Robin Bright and Dr. Mary Dyck
    Early Brain Development, moderated by Dr. Robbin Gibb
    Traditional Perspectives on Aboriginal Youth, moderated by Tanya Pace Crosschild

Venue: University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Date: Thursday, May 5 - Saturday, May 7, 2011

Conference Description:

Beginning in the last decade of the 20th century, disciplines long dedicated to the study of the child and childhood have been revitalized, while those whose attention to childhood had waned significantly since mid-century are newly engaged with the central problematic of what the child and childhood represents.  Figured in the plural, childhoods pose a significant crossroads for theoretical and empirical work on the nature of being human and development broadly construed, and childhood as an experience, as a social category, as an artistic and literary construct, as a category for historical and demographic analysis, as a category of personhood, and as a locus for human rights and policy interventions.  Considering childhoods of the past, present and future, scholars will present research results, policy approaches, and theoretical paradigms that are emergent in this re-engagement with the child and childhoods.  Bringing together divergent networks of expertise organized around childhoods, this conference offers the opportunity for new research collaborations and the scholarly dissemination of innovative research.

Conference Themes:

  • Definitions of Childhood: Invented or Discovered:
    Who get to define childhood?  What counts as a good childhood? A "normal" childhood?  How have been childhoods defined in various media (science, art, literature, social science, humanities, and policy studies)?  By what measures? And at what historical junctures?
  • Indigenous Theories of Childhood: 
    What alternate models of childhood and development exist?  How can they be found?  Interpreted?  Shared?  What is the role of the child and childhood in other societies?  What rights, and responsibilities do they have?
  • Gender and childhood:
    How do the categories of gender and child overlap, extend, elaborate or contradict one another?  How do sex, gender, and sexuality shape the experience of childhood?  What are the policy effects of concerns about boys at risk or girls at play? 
  • Globalization: 
    How do global models of childhood interact with local conceptions?  Do global educational standards contradict or support local sovereignty?  What are the effects of migration, diaspora, refugee status on childhood?  How does globalization affect the commoditization of childhood?
  • Technology:
    How is technology being used to study the child and childhood?  What is digital childhood?  What are the effects for private space?  For common space?  For play?
  • Adolescence:
    What's the point of adolescence?  As a category of human development?  A demographic category?  As a literary public?  As a human experience?
  • Empowerment:
    What are the social and policy implications for a child-centered approach to human rights?  How can we understand child agency in terms of violence and the law?  What can empowerment mean for the very young child?
  • Health, Disability, and Risk:
    How can we understand the experiential effects of health and disability on child life?  What are latest findings in the study of infant and child development?  When is diagnosis of ills or limitations helpful and when is it a hindrance?  How is risk figured in childhood?  What does a resilient childhood look like?

A Special Thank You to All Our Sponsors:

  • University of Lethbridge Discovery Lecture Series
  • University of Lethbridge Women Scholar Speaker Series
  • Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research
  • The Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada