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Empowering children by transforming norms


Childism and Decoloniality in European Education Research

The figure of the child as primitive and inferior influences not only how intergenerational relationships between children and adults play out in educational systems, but also how Euro-centric coloniality is taught and learned. This has been one of the key themes discussed in the Transnational Childism Colloquium on Childism and Decoloniality, which contributed to the motivation to advance research at the intersection of adultism and coloniality to contribute to ethical advancements in European and Euro-centric educational practices.

Tanu Biswas (University of Stavanger), Annette Hellman (University of Gothenberg), Serena Serena Iacobino (University of Brussels)  and Emiliano Macinai (University of Florence) have been working on proposing the creation of a new network drawing upon common research interests across various disciplines and traditions contributing to educational research.  


This project emerges  from a collective recognition of the need for decolonisation of educational institutions at both national and transnational levels. To this end, our common rationale particularly acknowledges that  the mechanisms of the European Empires and States are  mutually and historically constitutive in the construction of relations between “ coloniality”, "race" and "age". Chronological age is a category that calls for critical attention in research at the intersection of coloniality, racism and education. 


The central aim of the project is to convene, consolidate and cultivate research at the intersection of adultism and Euro-centric coloniality within the context of education in its broadest sense. The critical research advancements will inform how the intersection of childism and decoloniality might develop as a transformative intervention in theory and society. The Childism Institute will host colloquia dedicated to exploring these themes in theory, methodology and practice.


As part of this project, Toby Rollo and Tanu Biswas are co-editing a special dossier of the journal childhood & philosophy titled: "confronting adultcentrism in educational philosophies and institutions." For further information visit the call for papers here.

An initial meeting will take place on November 16, 2023 to start developing an international online colloquium on the subject in February 2024. See link for and information about this meeting here.

For more information, contact Tanu Biswas.

Childism and History

Patriarchy in the form of adultism is deeply rooted in history. Across a diversity of times, places, cultures, and social systems, adulthood has been assumed to represent a normative humanity. This project aims to develop childist readings of history that both deconstruct its embedded adultism and lift up ways that children and adults have sought to overcome it.

An initial meeting will be organized in Fall 2023 to develop ideas for a possible online colloquium on the subject in Spring 2024, as well as proposals to academic meetings such as of the Society for the History of Children and Youth and the Children's Historical Society.

For more information, contact John Wall.

Childism and Youth-Led Movements

The motivation for dedicating a project to child- and youth-led movements emerged through ongoing conversations in the Advisory Board regarding including more children and youth in the work of the Childism Institute than we have managed in a few instances so far. It also arises from a cooperation more recently established with The Change Factory (Norway), a youth-led organization that works to ensure that adults working with or making decisions regarding children’s lives receive knowledge from children and youth, presented by children and youth.

The aim of this project then is to offer space for organizations like Change Factory, the Children's General Assembly to the UN, child labor organizations in Latin America, and other local and international child and youth movements to meet a share knowledge about their challenges and strategies of resistance to support age-inclusive transformations in their societies. Another aspiration is to eventually establish a child and youth advisory group as part of the institute.

For more information, contact Tanu Biswas or Hanne Warming.

Young People's Online Journal

The Childism Institute will host an online journal exclusively for children and young people to make their voices heard on issues of adultism they face in their lives. Anyone under 18 will have a platform to share essays, fiction, artwork, or other forms of expression that question adultist norms and/or provide childist solutions and ideas.

We anticipate a first issue appearing (on the Childism Institute website) in January 2024.

For more information, or to make a submission, contact John Wall or Christine Eskander.

Panels at International Conferences

We will make a number of proposals to existing international conferences for panels on or using childism. These conferences include the European Sociological Association (ESA), Sociology of Childhood, and (in connection with the History project above) the Society for the History of Children and Youth and the Children's Historical Society.

Please contact Hanne Warming if you have further ideas/suggestions for relevant conferences or would like to be involved.

The Right to Vote

We plan to continue our ongoing collaborations with the Children's Voting Colloquium (CVC)  on research and activism around abolishing voting age restrictions worldwide. Children and young people's lack of voting rights is one of the most eggregious and fundamental expressions of adultism plaguing both children's and adults' lives. The aim is to develop further research into the history, law, and rationales behind voting age discrimination and to propose both locally relevant and globally meaningful pathways beyond them. 

Initial conversations were begun at colloquium on "Childism and the Future of Democracy" in May 2021, and since then several discussions of childism and voting have been held at the CVC. In addition, as described on teh CVC website, a number of publications have resulted, in the edited volume, Exploring Children's Suffrage: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ageless Voting (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Further work will develop these conversations further, especially in collaboration with the many international organizations led by children and adults to advance ageless voting rights.

For more information, or to make a submission, contact John Wall.

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