EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Lifeworlds of children and youth in times of crisis

Location Humanities Large Seminar Room 1
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Anna Streissler (University of Vienna) email
Elise Guillermet (IRD) email
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Long Abstract

This workshop focuses on both the impacts of "crises" on the lifeworlds of children and youth and how they perceive and actively cope with it. We think of crisis as economic, political, ideological, ecological, demographic, medical and military, influencing children's and young people's places in societies and their (possibilities for) agency.

We are expecting contributions on three questions:

1) How are children and youth defining and perceiving "crisis"?

What are children and youth thinking about adults' discourses and preoccupations related to "crisis"? Are their perceptions similar or different to those of adults? If so, how and with which consequences?

2) How are children and youth acting in particular unsafe situations (due e.g. to the global economical crisis, local political and military conflicts, epidemics, family poverty or dislocation)?

Are their conventional roles as social actors changing and if so, in which ways? Are they taking on new responsibilities and are they creating new places for themselves? How are they resilient and how are they resisting and acting to defend their own rights?

3) How do adults address "crises" vis-a-vis children and youth?

How do adults' fears concerning "crisis" and hopes for overcoming it influence children and youth and which consequences arise (e.g. in politics, education, health care, human rights)?

The workshop also inquires into children's and young people's imagination as part of their agency in times of "crisis".

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Analyzing conflict: juvenile lifeworlds in Goma, DR Congo

Author: Silke Oldenburg (University of Basel)  email
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Long Abstract

Goma is one of the urban hotspots of a war which marks Eastern DR Congo for more than 15 years, bringing youth and adults alike together in a constant negotiation about normality in times of crisis. In my PhD project I leave the dichotomy between victim and perpetrator behind and proceed from conceiving youth as analysts of their war torn environment. How do youth themselves perceive and judge their positions, opportunities and perspectives while trying to establish an order within their social worlds?

Drawing on empirical data from 13month of ethnographic fieldwork in Goma (January-December 2008, June-September 2009), I illustrate the heterogeneous living realities of youth without neglecting its impact on the intergenerational contract. I will discuss youth's experiences, hopes and imaginations in a context of uncertainty and therewith contribute to highlighting their often ignored, creative potential as social actors

Children's voices, expression and silence: approaching Roma's transformations in Italy from children standpoint

Author: Alice Sophie Sarcinelli (Université de Liège)  email
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Long Abstract

The major political and economical transformations since the 1990s are modifying the presence of Roma population in Europe. In Italy, the promotion of specific policies towards Roma has had a strong impact on Roma's everyday life : some communities are constantly evicted from their dwellings and others are without a legal confirmed status.

Based on an ethnography in Milan, I will link public policies to the subjective experience of Roma children. Firstly, this presentation will explore how children experience, imagine and express this period of crisis both individually and in group. Afterwards, I will critically discuss the theme of children's expression as non univocal category. On the contrary, a more complex theoretical framework may help to conceptualize childhood and expression, mobilizing the concepts of gender, age, social conditions and generation. Finally, the paper will suggest that expression is crucial to address the epistemological questions embedded in this field of studies.

Multicultural education in times of crisis, an intervention project in Austria

Author: Anna Streissler (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I discuss work-in-progress on multicultural classrooms in Vienna, Austria, which I started in 2008. Designed as partnership between anthropologists, education specialists and teachers the project is aimed both at empowering pupils aged 12-14 and teaching them about science. After initial training in a "research lab", the pupils are asked to carry out ethnographic research about their own multicultural (Amit-Talai 1995) lifeworlds. I discuss ups and downs of an attempt at innovative intervention into a structurally conservative schoolsystem, which through its "monolingual habitus" (Gogolin 1994) is devaluing and stigmatizing children with migrant backgrounds. This is happening at a time when xenophobia and unemployment are rising. What are the possibilities of intervening in ways that empower the pupils and teach all of them about positive aspects of multiculturalism, while taking on board the teachers and sticking to the ground rules laid down by the schools and other relevant stakeholders?

Coming of age in postcolonial island: school children and imaginative worlds in contemporary political crisis of Madagascar

Author: Valentina Mutti (University of Milan - Bicocca)  email
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Long Abstract

Based on intensive fieldwork conducted among Betsileo and Vakinankaratra children and youth living in the city of Antsirabe (Highlands Madagascar), my paper focuses on both crisis and imagination from a children-oriented approach.

After the political collapse of 2002, the current generation of children has recently experienced a political crisis in 2009 when, following months of demonstrations, the leader of the opposition Rajoelina toppled the President Ravalomanana with the army's backing: schools were closed and the island has been ostracized by international community. As the everyday life of schoolchildren has changed, I explore how the discourse about future, formal education and gender identities are re-shaped by Malagasy youngsters under the light of this crisis.

By collecting girls' and boys' narratives and teachers' points of view, I describe how children's itineraries and their imaginative landscapes are affected by the perception of crisis and their "coming of age" in a unstable country. At the same time, I underline how imagination can be used by children themselves as a tool of finding a (gendered) place in a postcolonial society.

The Girl Guide Association of Cyprus: girl's and women's perceptions and resulting actions of the Cypriot conflict and other crises

Author: Nadja Rossmanith  email
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Long Abstract

The Girl Guide Association of Cyprus is a non-governmental organisation for girls and women with members ranging from four years and upwards including women in their eighties. Prior to the internal Cypriot conflict with its international ramifications there were both Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot members within the organization. After hostilities erupted in 1974 and the country was divided the Greek-Cypriot members kept the organization functioning and adapted the organizational structure to conform to the new circumstances. This paper deals with the impact on and the actions taken by the children and young people of 1974 and how they perceive these actions, following developments and issues as present day adults. Also the perceptions of today's children and young people within the organization on the past and the existing situation are discussed and the discourse within these generations of women will be elaborated upon.

Viewing the political through tradition and prophesy: Greek Cypriot children's imaginative responses to political crisis

Author: Spyros Spyrou (European University Cyprus)  email
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Long Abstract

In the summer of 1996, Cyprus experienced a political crisis: violence broke out in the buffer zone which separates the island between north and south. A demonstration led by Greek Cypriots was met with a counter-demonstration by Turkish Cypriots and two Greek Cypriots were killed as a result of the violence which erupted. In parallel to these events the government of the Republic of Cyprus announced its intention to buy land-to-air missiles from Russia to boost its military defense. Fieldwork carried out with Greek Cypriot children at the time provided the ethnographer with a unique opportunity to explore children's reactions to this crisis. This paper will explore how two groups of children came to construct their understandings of the crisis and its outcome through their imaginative use of political reality, religious prophesy, and local tradition.

A crisis in the genes? Children and young people's responses to processes of medical labelling through paediatric genetics

Authors: Emma Clavering (Newcastle University)  email
Janice McLaughlin (Newcastle University)  email
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Long Abstract

When the health and development of a child is identified as being somehow different, paediatric genetics may become one source of new narratives of explanation. Crisis, if framed as an extreme unsettling of previous understandings and narratives of identity, may be felt at any point in the process around seeking and / or obtaining a diagnosis, and dealing with the consequences. This paper concentrates on the rarely explored perspectives of the children themselves. Do children perceive diagnosis (whether established or not) as crisis? How do they experience primarily medical attempts to define key aspects of themselves? How does this enrich our understanding of processes medical othering? These are some of the questions being explored through ongoing ethnographic fieldwork with families in the UK . We propose that, while medical authority is significant to the meanings generated by formal diagnostic processes, children and young people are likely to present alternative and often surprising accounts of their own lifeworlds that may not sit easily with existing adult-orientated assumptions.

Poor vulnerable orphan versus priest, working girl and President

Author: Elise Guillermet (IRD)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper is based on data collected in two African contexts : Abomey (Bénin) and Zinder (Niger), between 2003 and 2007.

The death of parents with young infants are creating familial crisis. Adult parents are searching for the best guardian according to the unfortunable event's interpretation. Two issues are expressed: the death of the child or his future delinquency.

Three constraints are combined: the etiological system (witchcraft / muslim representations), the kinship rules and the local representations of the child.

To highlight these points, I propose to confront the children's points of view and practices with the adults' ones (considered in their diverse status: religious, social and their adhesion to the children's rights).

I'll describe how children are living their situations through three questions:

- Do they know the adults interpretation of their orphan situation and the death of their parents? Are they informed as adults? What does it mean about the children's local status?

- Which are the children's own interpretations of their parents' death? Which are their practices regarding to their risk perception?

- And, finally, what are they doing with their social status of orphan, distinctively to the adults' constructions of the juvenile delinquency?

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.