Empowering children by critiquing norms and structures
We are a global network of researchers and advocates who develop childist theory, collaborate on research projects, organize events, generate media, consult with organizations, and catalyze social change.
We are run by an international Advisory Board of experts and collaborate with universities and organizations across the world. Our institutional base is at Rutgers University Camden, US.
John Wall is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Childhood Studies at Rutgers University Camden, US. He is a theoretical ethicist whose work investigates poststructuralism, ethical theory, historical constructions of childhoods, children's rights, and children's suffrage. He particularly examines how children's lived experiences challenge and transform ethical, social, and political norms across societies. He is also co-director of the Children's Voting Colloquium. Website here.
Tanu Biswas is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Philosophy at University of Bayreuth, Germany. She is an interdisciplinary philosopher of education, particularly interested in exploring the philosophical richness that children and childhood have to offer adults. She currently researches children's civil disobedience for climate justice as a call for rethinking pedagogical relationships. Website here.
Kate Cairns is Associate Professor of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University Camden, US. Her work brings a feminist perspective to the politics of childhood and explores how young people are positioned as the promise or threat of collective futures. She has investigated these dynamics across diverse sites, including neoliberal education reform, maternal foodwork, and youth urban agriculture. Website here.
Daniel Cook is Professor of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University Camden, US. His work focuses on moral configurations of childhood and the child vis-à-vis commercial and economic cultural fields. In particular, he explores the various ways in which tensions between “the child” and “the market” play themselves out in various sites of children’s consumer culture, such as advertising, food, rituals, clothing and media. Website here.
Jonathan Josefsson is Research Fellow in the Department of Thematic Studies, Unit of Child Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. His research interests concern primarily children and child studies, migration politics, political philosophy and ethics. Website here.
Karin Murris is Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Oulu, Finland, and Emerita Professor of Education, University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is a teacher educator and grounded in academic philosophy and a postqualitative research paradigm with interests in childhood studies, democratic postdevelopmental pedagogies and school ethics. Website here.
Bengt Sandin is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Thematic Studies, Unit of Child Studies, at Linköping University, Sweden. He studies the history of childhoods, education, justice systems, and children's citizenship and founded the world's first doctoral program in Child Studies. Website here.
Anna Sparrman is Professor in the Department of Thematic Studies, Unit of Child Studies, at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research combines theories of visual culture with children, consumption, child culture and sexuality, and addresses how norms and values are enacted between children, adults, and the material world in children's everyday life practices. Website here.
Sarada Balagopalan is Associate Professor Childhood Studies at Rutgers University Camden, US. Broadly focused on postcolonial childhoods, her inter-disciplinary research engages marginal children’s experiences with compulsory schooling, labor, gendered school-spaces, children’s rights discourses and pedagogies of citizenship, as well as productively drawing upon children’s lives to decenter hegemonic assumptions around childhood. Website here.
Erica Burman is Professor of Education, Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester, UK. She is a feminist and childhood researcher, supervisor and consultant working around questions of ‘race’, gender and class inequalities, particularly in relation to mental health and psychological issues and intersections of state and interpersonal violence. She is also a qualified Group Analyst. Website here.
Cynthia Dell Clark
Cynthia Dell Clark is Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University Camden, US. She is author of numerous ethnographies of children's myths, chronic illness, play, and symbolism, and has chaired the Child and Youth Section of the American Sociological Association and served on the board of the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group at the American Anthropological Association. Website here.
Anandini Dar is Assistant Professor in the School of Education Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi, India. She researches childhood and youth, geographies, migration and diasporas, feminist pedagogy, ethnography and research methods for young subjects. She is a founding member of the Critical Childhoods and Youth Studies Collective (CCYSC). Website here.
Kriste Lindenmeyer is University Professor Emeritus of History, and former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at Rutgers University Camden, US. Her scholarship, including in numerous books, focuses on the American history of public policy, diversity, and childhood and youth. She was a founder of the Society for the History of Children and Youth and serves on several academic and foundation boards. Website here.
Fikile Nxumalo is on the faculty in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada, where she directs the Childhood Place Pedagogy Lab. Her scholarship focuses on reconceptualizing place-based and environmental education within current times of ecological precarity and is rooted in perspectives from Indigenous knowledges, Black feminist geographies, and critical posthumanist theories. Website here.
Lauren J. Silver is Associate Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University Camden, US, and an Affiliate Scholar of the Center for Urban Research and Education. She is a critical ethnographer whose work lies at the intersection of the sociology and anthropology of youth, feminist methodologies, and analyses of urban systems. Website here.
Nathan C. Walker is an instructor at Rutgers University Camden, US, executive director of 1791 Delegates, and manager of The Foundation for Religious Literacy. His scholarship is on First Amendment law, human rights, and children's rights. Website here.
Hanne Warming is Professor of Sociology and Childhood, and Head of the Research Group ‘Social dynamics and change’ at Roskilde University, Denmark. She is a sociologist in the fields of childhood studies and social work research, as well as policy and practice. Her research fields of expertise include childhood and youth, social work, lived citizenship, social interaction, methodology and ethics in researching childhood research. Website here.
Founded in 2019, the Childism Institute grew out of discussions among childhood studies scholars at Rutgers University, Roskilde University, and Linköping University who wished to develop new approaches to critiquing adultist normative structures. In different ways, we felt there are limits to the idea of empowering children and children's experiences simply by understanding and encouraging their agency, voices, and participation. A similar shift seemed to be needed to that from second- to third-wave feminism, that is, from recognizing children's equality to adults to also questioning the underlying structural assumptions that define this equality in the first place.
Our Advisory Board was formed in 2020 and a strategic plan developed to focus on three areas: 1. childism theory (the big idea, how it can be developed, and how it needs to be critiqued and evolved); 2. childism research (interdisciplinary social scientific and humanistic studies); and 3. childism practice (finding ways to inspire collective reimaginings of politics, economics, education, families, communities, law, business, and power relations).
Our first major endeavor has been a Transnational Childism Colloquium (TCC), an online discussion bringing together childism experts and scholars and activists interested in childism. The TCC takes place three times each academic year, focusing respectively on childism theory and research, childism in relation to other -isms, and childism in practice.
Further work has included developing publications and special issues of journals; podcasts and other media; engaging in issues of children's democratic participation and voting; and consulting on childist possibilities in education, politics, play, and other areas. As the pandemic lifts, we plan also projects in civic engagement and activism; a speaker series; and conferences.