Accepted paper:

The end of home: apocalyptic narratives in children's fears


Helena Hornfeldt (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses how images and imaginaries of climate change affect children and young people and how these images create special conditions for emotions. How do the idea of securitization of home in risk societies go along with visual narratives of global climate catastrophes and an uncertain future?

Paper long abstract:

At the dawn of the twenty-first century we live in a time of fear. Whether it’s the fear of environmental catastrophes or the fear of terrorist attacks, many people currently live in a state of constant anxiety about the dangers that daily is presented in the media. This constant anxiety is also a reality for many children and teenagers who fear the present as well as the future. Above all, they are afraid of climate changes. While anxiety and fears more clearly determine our choices in life, people in the western world live in a time where safety and security characterizes everyday life, which in particular has repercussions on children's everyday lives and freedom of movement. This also adds to an ongoing debate on the current focus on threats to personal and societal security and what this preoccupation does to children´s self-image, living conditions and their understandings of the future. By focusing on children´s narratives and adult memories of fears in childhood, this paper aims to examine the relation between how images and visual culture that signal “catastrophe”, “extinction” and “collapse” creates special conditions for emotions. In what ways are emotions (fears) socially and culturally conditioned? Furthermore I attempt to understand the cultural meanings and impact of images of lonely polar bears on melting ice floes and parched land and how these images clashes with the idea of living in a secure and predictable world. What narratives of fear are available at different times and how does visual culture affect children’s self-perceived fears? By combining a broad contemporary analysis of visual narratives with archival studies of the relation between human and nature it becomes possible to say something about the intertextuality and the epistemological contexts from which fears derives its power and authority.

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Images and the imaginary of Home: analysing pictures and visual culture in times of securitization and domopolitics