Conference Agenda

RN04_06: Children in space and place
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Daniel Stoecklin, University of Geneva
Location: GM.327
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road
Time allocation: 15' presentation directly followed by 5' consecutive discussion on the paper presented, and at the end of the session 10' general discussion of all papers presented in the session.


The Children of Kypseli Square

Sofia Vlachou1, Baharan Andishmand2

1Panteion University, Athens, Greece; 2University of Amsterdam

My presentation relies on a short film that was created in the framework of a post- graduate summer school, organized by the Athens Ethnographic Film Society, in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute of Athens, in 2015.

The film deals with the children's appropriation of the urban space around Kanari Square (commonly referred to in Greek as Platia Kypselis), in Athens. That square is located in one of the most densely built metropolitan areas, in the heart of the multiethnic quartier of Kypseli that has been basically inhabited by first- and second generation migrants for the last few decades. While the Square environment represents one of the very limited social encounter opportunities for the mostly unemployed- and starkly impoverished local population of all ages, the youngest ones reclaim it as an exciting and ever transforming field of action and as as a terrain to negotiate their affiliations, tastes and sense of belongingness on a steady basis. The authors undertake to trace the multitude of playful trajectories and creative ways that reattribute meaning to an otherwise mundane piece of urban space 'at children's eye- height', in order to remind us of the enrichment carried along with the childrens' presence and the value entailed in the existence of free, public spaces open to all.

Place Meaning for Children in the Forest Garden

Maria Jennie Hammarsten

Jönköping University Sweden, Sweden

Previous studies show that outdoor places have different meanings for children's lives based on children's preferences from experiences and memories. The purpose of the study is to investigate the forest gardens' places from the children’s perspective. The theoretical framework is Social Studies of Childhood, where children are regarded as competent social actors and right to give their voices. This study intends to use empirical material from walk-and-talk conversations and photography with 28 children. The results from this ongoing study presents the four most photographed places in the forest garden, which are places with plants, the pond, the fireplace and the tipin place. Places with plants give children a sense of belonging to the nature and think they are friends with the insects. Boundaries in forest gardens are fuzzy and barriers like the fencing are designed to keep animals out rather than children in. Educators positively encourage risk taking, inviting children to try different activities and offering a range of opportunities from which children can select and self-regulate their level of risk and challenge. Barriers, however, exist in taking up of all opportunities because socioeconomic disadvantage and cultural norms mean many participating children have never before experienced such natural environments in their deprived home neighbourhoods or for immigrant children, in their countries of origin. It is therefore interesting to report that theme of boundaries, barriers and belonging are intersect in shaping children’s relationship with the places in the forest garden.

Inside and Around Schools’ Toilets: Theorizing Boundaries Between Adults and Children

Pascale Garnier

University Paris 13, France

Toilets are an unique place inside schools where children can escape from the “panoptical” (Foucault, 1975) power of adults. They create boundaries between adults and children regarding cleanliness, which are both physical, symbolical and moral (Douglas, 1966). These age boundaries (Garnier, 2015) are not only that of the segregation of toilets for adults and for children, which is systematic in France, as well as the gendered divide. Inside and around children’s toilets, these boundaries are also disputed and performed through their respective strategies and tactics (De Certeau, 1984). In order to study them, our inquiry in French schools is based on an ethnographic study in écoles maternelles (2), elementary (2) and secondary schools (2), using interviews with adults and visual methodologies with children (aged 3 to 16 years).

Our results show how adults’ control children’s body, but also the failure of their strategies in order to keep the “proper” uses of the toilets. From children’s point of view, schools toilets are often avoided individually and criticized as too dirty and dangerous, but they are still attractive for groups of peers. Boys and girls have very different uses of schools’ toilets, but they exert a same collective resistance against adults’ power upon their body. It seems that what they also challenge is the conception of “the body” rationalized by the institution as an individual territory and object of hygienic care, for a more collective and joyous embodied performance (Bakhtine, 1965).

Why Emil Spend His Breaks at the Outskirts of the Schoolyard. Anthropological Perspectives on the Battles for Territories in the Schoolyard

Else Ladekjær

VIVE, Denmark

The purpose of the presentation is to look clooser at the relation between children's social status and their possiblities for taking up space in the schoolyard. Said in other words how children's social relations intertwine with the physical spaces. I am inspired by Thorne, who has shown how boys take up more space than girls in school in her book "Genderplay. Girls and Boys in School" (1993). Some activities take up a lot of spaces in the schoolyard, e.g. boys playing soccer. But not all children who want to play soccer are allowed to play, as there is not space enough for everyone. Thus there is a battle for territories - age and skills are central elements in theese battles. Theese battles is related to childrens possibilities for being physically active - if you cannot take up any space in the schoolyard you cannot move and be physically active. Some children like Emil who cannot take up any space in the schoolyard thus cannot move physically. Emil tries different strategies to change his position both socially and physically.

The presentation is bases upon fieldwork among children in Danish public school, where I followed the children from two classes from two schools from the 5th to 7th grade.