Nicola Ansell

Biography: Nicola Ansell is Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Brunel University London. Her research focuses on social and cultural change in the lives of young people in the global south, particularly in southern Africa, and the policies and practices that produce or seek to respond to such change. She is currently working on two projects. One explores the relationships between education and aspiration in rural Lesotho, India and Laos, and the other examines the impacts that cash transfer programmes are having on generational relations in rural Lesotho and Malawi. She is the author of Children, Youth and Development (Routledge, 2nd edition 2017) and runs an MA in Children, Youth and International Development.

Proposal title: Equipping young people for a changing world? Experiences and expectations of the expansion of schooling in Lesotho, India and Laos.

Abstract: Remote rural environments in the global south are often thought of as remote from processes of global change – left behind by economic and cultural innovation. Yet rural livelihoods are undoubtedly among the most disrupted by environmental change and are integrated into global processes in surprising ways. They are also home to growing numbers of the world’s young people.

Schooling now features prominently in the lives of the vast majority of rural youth, even in poorer countries – an outcome of high levels of government and donor investment in education over the past two decades, aligned to global goal setting. Yet the content and structure of education often seems very remote from rural young people’s everyday lives and likely futures. Drawing on ethnographic research in schools and rural communities in Lesotho, India and Laos, I explore how young people imagine their futures and the roles school plays in shaping these ideas. I also show how misalignment between the goals of education systems and the expectations of young people in all three settings is resulting in forms of educational (non)engagement that leave both parties dissatisfied.

Diego Carbajo

Biography: Diego Carbajo is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology 2 at the University of the Basque Country (Spain). His main research interests articulate the concepts of youth, precarity and entrepreneurialism, and it is concretised in research and publications on the discourse of entrepreneurship, contemporary residential transitions, the phenomenon of ‘lonjas’ and the squatter movement in the Basque Country. Within a divergent line of research and grounded on posthuman theory, new materialism and multispecies ethnography, he seeks to force the limits of enunciation of Sociology with more experimental works around artistic interventions, popular sports and the new uses and meanings of certain donkey breeds.

Proposal title: Young people, Asinotherapy and Trust: Experimental Sociologies for the Anthropocene

Abstract: The presentation engages the burden that human exceptionalism and methodological individualism entail for sociologically thinking some of the challenges posed by the Anthropocene (Haraway 2016). I do that by engaging with the relatively recent ‘re-emergence’ of two donkey breeds in parts of Spain and Portugal – in many respects as the result of multi-agency interventions, and as the consequence of several initiatives that try to counteract environmental problems, rural depopulation, the disappearance of preindustrial knowledge, etc.

Second, the presentation will analyse one of the most innovative applications of this donkey breed: asinotherapy. This methodology employs the donkey as a co-therapist taking advantage of its ‘patience, attentiveness and intelligence’ and it has been proved particularly effective for children and young people diagnosed with disabilities, emotional disorders, etc. For our purposes, asinotherapy becomes a challenging study case because by emphasising the agency of the donkey, it blurs modern dichotomies —such as the human/non-human or nature/culture ones— and troubles both human exceptionalism and methodological individualism.

Based on exploratory qualitative fieldwork carried out in a three-day asinotherapy workshop the presentation will consider the donkey as an active mediator not only in therapeutic practices involved in young people’s wellbeing, but also in techno-scientific activities about ‘sustainability’. Overall, this experimental work seeks to foster the debate around what kind of sociological imagination we need to develop in order to face the challenges posed by the Anthropocene.

Olatz G.Abrisketa

Biography: Olatz González Abrisketa is a lecturer in social anthropology and Deputy Head of Education at the Doctoral School of the University of the Basque Country. Her book Basque pelota: a ritual, an aesthetic was published in English in 2012 by the Basque Studies Center of the University of Nevada. She is also the author of the article “Displaced bodies: Gender, sports, and cultural protagonism in the Basque square” (2013), AIBR prize for the best article on Ibero-American anthropology and “The ontological opening of contemporary anthropology” (2016), co-authored with Susana Carro-Ripalda. Dedicated also to visual anthropology, in 2007 she produced her first documentary feature film “Jørgen Leth on Haiti”, edited by the Danish Film Institute in 2010. Another short film,”Carmen” (2011), won the best ultra-short film award of the Society for Visual Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Her  latest film, co-directed with the Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth, “Pelota II”, was released at the end of 2015.

Proposal title: Wolves and young people in the Anthropocene

Abstract: The so-called Anthropocene sums up the idea that human action has become a causal force for geological transformation. But there are reasonable doubts about the ability of political rhythms and structures to respond in time to social and environmental needs that are becoming crucial. Faced with this disturbing situation caused by the catastrophic future announced by scientific knowledge, and the political impotence to curb it or to offer alternative models of governance, the wolf, with all its mythology and allegorical power, easily becomes a focus of our fears and projections. For some it represents a devastating enemy that is going to end their world. For others, it symbolises the restitution of nature, of a world in equilibrium not corrupted by human presence. In this presentation I will examine what young people in rural areas in Spain —those most affected by conservation policies promoted by the EU— think, and how do they live with a so-called wolf conflict? I will explore how the Anthropocene, as an operative category, enables us to think about these kind of conflicts.

Peter Kelly

Biography: Peter Kelly is Head of UNESCO UNEVOC at RMIT University, and Professor of Education in the School of Education. He is a sociologist of youth, education and work who has published extensively on young people, globalization, education and work. His current research interests include a critical engagement with young people’s well-being, resilience and enterprise in what has been called the Anthropocene.

Proposal title: Young People and the Anthropocene: Futures Past and Present?

Abstract: Our present is marked by profound and highly consequential crises in multiple earth systems – oceanic, atmospheric, terran and capitalist. In Staying with the Trouble, Donna Haraway (2016) highlights the crises of earth systems that situate us, all, ‘in the midst of the earth’s sixth great extinction event and in the midst of engulfing wars, extractions, and immiserations of billions of people and other critters for something called “profit” or “power” – or, for that matter, called “God”.’

Neo-Liberal capitalism has gorged itself on the four ‘cheaps’ – food, labour-power, energy and raw materials (Moore 2015) – and is now devouring its young and their futures. Our present is marked by a growing awareness – in various symbolic, discursive and material spaces and practices – that our futures, young people’s futures, have already been used up, consumed, exploited. That the crises that we encounter in our presents both portend more profound crises to come, and foreclose any sense that we can do anything about our probable futures.

In this presentation I will develop recent work on a political economy of youth, and the rethinking of young people’s marginalisation, to consider how orthodox sociologies of youth can move beyond human exceptionalism and methodological individualism. The aim here is to make a modest contribution to re-imagining the thinking technologies and knowledge practices that sociologies of youth can bring to the task of ‘staying with the trouble’ that we and young people find ourselves in. In our future presents.

Peter Kraftl

Biography: Peter Kraftl is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Birmingham, UK, and Honorary Professor at the School of Education, RMIT, Australia. He is the author of seven books and over fifty peer-reviewed journal articles, which explore intersections between childhood, youth, education and material environments. Peter has been an Editor of Children’s Geographies and Area journals. He currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship called Plastic Childhoods.

Proposal title: Plastic Childhoods

Abstract: This paper will discuss a project that seeks to instigate a critical analysis of ‘plastic childhoods’. It will cut through manifold concerns about the state of contemporary Western childhoods to examine the many ways in which children’s lives are entangled with the plastics circulating through social, ecological, hydrological and technological systems. It will explore findings from experimental, interdisciplinary approaches to plastic childhoods, which are virtually without precedent in social-scientific childhood studies. These include nano-scientific studies of the circulation of nano- and micro-plastics through children’s bodies and environments, and analyses of traces of plastics through different social media. Thus the paper will discuss how we might develop a more multi-faceted view of how plastics (literally) enter and leave children’s lives, their bodies, and their environments, across scales ranging from the very tiny (the nano) to the global.

Michael Marder

Biography: Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from The New School for Social Research in New York. Prior to coming to the Basque Country, he taught at universities in the United States (Georgetown, George Washington, and Duquesne Universities) and in Canada (University of Toronto & University of Saskatchewan). In addition, Marder has been a visiting professor at the University of Bristol (UK), University of Lisbon and University of Coimbra (Portugal), University of Sichuan (China), Diego Portales University (Chile), and Forum on Contemporary Theory (India). His writings span the fields of phenomenology, political thought, and environmental philosophy. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and thirteen monographs, including Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life (2013); Phenomena—Critique—Logos: The Project of Critical Phenomenology (2014); The Philosopher’s Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium (2014); Pyropolitics: When the World Is Ablaze (2015), Dust (2016), Energy Dreams (2017), Heidegger: Phenomenology, Ecology, Politics (2018) and Political Categories (2018) among others.

Proposal title: Is there such a thing as youth in the Anthropocene?

Abstract: The title of the symposium confronts us with radically different temporalities: a certain phase in an individual’s life between childhood and mature adulthood more or less arbitrarily classified as “youth,” on the one hand, and a geological age alluding to “deep” planetary time, on the other. It is possible, obviously, to analyse the disproportionate effects of the era known as the Anthropocene on young people. But what is a period of human life consisting, at best, of a couple of decades, compared to the life of our planet, which is, to be sure, also quite young in cosmic terms, as it still has a hot and liquid core?

More interesting, perhaps, would be an approach that would counterbalance the question regarding human youths with that concerned with the youth of humanity. In this respect, the Anthropocene marks a breaking point where Homo sapiens sapiens, a species that is also young on the evolutionary scale, is no longer so, to the extent that it becomes, with the help of its technological prostheses and the accumulation of their unintended consequences, a planetary force. The Anthropocene is supposed to signal the maturation of the human species, the establishment of its all-pervasive global presence in the manner of much older biological kingdoms, such as plants and bacteria. Yet, it is a tragic maturity, achieved thanks to immature modes of thinking and behaving that, in the name of short-term adaptability, undermine the very material conditions of possibility for human and nonhuman lives.

And here we circle back to the somewhat amorphous figure of young people as the ones who will spend more of their (our) lives contending with the fallout of the Anthropocene and will experience its impact more intensely than those who no longer belong to this age category. The clandestine hope I have is that another model of maturation would germinate in the generation of youths severely affected by the Anthropocene, so that human psycho-cultural ontogeny would no longer recapitulate the phylogeny, projected, moreover, onto the geological and planetary domains. At issue is a possibility of maturity that depends on meaningfully accepting individual and collective responsibility (even for destructive actions that are not one’s own doing) and developing ways of thinking and being that respect the world we live in.

Anoop Nayak

Biography: Anoop Nayak is Professor in Social and Cultural Geography at Newcastle University, UK. His research interests are focused in Race and Ethnic Studies, Youth Culture and Social Class and Gender, Masculinities and Social Change. Anoop has published widely in these areas and is author of Race, Place and Globalization:  Youth Cultures in a Changing World (2003 Oxford: Berg). He is co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of a joint monograph Gender, Youth and Culture: Global Masculinities and Femininities (2013 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan), and has published a social theory book on spatial relations of power with Alex Jeffrey entitled Geographical Thought (Routledge, 2013).  Anoop is currently leading a funded project exploring ‘Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a Post-Brexit Age’ (REA) and an ESRC co-production award, ‘Boys to Men: Developing New Templates for Masculinities in Primary Schools’.

Proposal title: Wasted Spaces? Young People, Place Attachment and the Practice of Reanimating the Post-industrial Landscape

This study explores the seemingly ‘dead’, ‘decaying’ and ‘unused’ landscapes of Northern England.  Through a series of multi-sensory ethnographic walks and focus group interviews the research investigates how young people navigate and interpret the post-industrial Anthropocene.  Of particular interest is the techniques through which young people reanimate and enliven the landscape, giving it new meaning and use in the contemporary period. This suggests that young people are active subjects, recreating place through acts of fictive belonging. At the same time, young people could be seen to exert exclusionary forms of urban territoriality in an effort to reclaim ‘left behind’ spaces and develop ideas of locality and nationhood.  This suggests that the young people’s micro-geographies are a critical component of place-making practices in the post-Holocene moment.

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw

Biography: Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw is a professor at Western University and Principal Investigator of two SSHRC-funded projects:  Transforming Waste Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education, and Exploring Climate Change Pedagogies with Children. Her writing and research contributes to Common World Childhoods Research Collective (tracing children’s relations with places, materials, and other species), and the Early Childhood Pedagogies Collaboratory (experimenting with the contours, conditions, and complexities of 21st century pedagogies).

Proposal title: Reconfiguring the plastic-scenes young children live with

Abstract: The presentation will respond to the question ‘how might we engage in world-making with children at a time of climate crisis?’  Using a feminist common world methods I will story the making of a synthetic classroom that engages children in reconfiguring their modes of attention and refigure their relationships with plastics beyond capitalism.

Aviva Reed

Aviva Reed is an interdisciplinary visual ecologist. Her practice explores scientific theories, particularly concepts associated with evolution and the ecological imagination. Her work aims to explore time and scale using storytelling, visualisations, soundscapes and physical movement to explore emergent systems occurring through complexity.

Biography: Aviva is a core member of the Small Friends Books team (published by CSIRO Publishing), as well as co-designer and facilitator of workshops inspired by these award-winning publications. These books explore the world of microbes. Her most recent project is Oekologie Studio, an art/ science studio. Its first publication in 2017, Eon, the Story of the Fossils, explores what we can learn from billions of years of being part of an evolving ecosystem. Oekologie Studio uses the Biotic Potential methodology, a technique that incorporates art making, storytelling and educational theories to explore complexity to create experiences and training in the ecologies. She also teaches hands on eco-literacy with Foodweb Education in schools through a gardening program.

Proposal title: Soil as thinking. New ways: unearthing old ways

Abstract: Trans disciplinary knowledge making encourages the collaboration of multiple disciplines and perspectives to work together to create new conceptual, theoretical and innovative approaches, new ways of thinking, time and space relevant cultural scaffoldings. In my practice as pedagogue and artist, I use processes that unearth indigenous ways of knowing such as storytelling within psycho- geological spaces coupled with western scientific theories and framed within an ongoing social practice, to encourage a relational ethics. The process of collaborative relational ethic making speaks to processes around well- being, responsibility and resilience building.

A tree is only as strong as the forest around it,

a person only as strong as the community around it.

My practice as ecological storyteller seeks to find patterns, shapes and opportunities for interpersonal relationships to occur based around metaphoric conceptual blending. Developing methods for trans disciplinary knowledge making is an exciting methodology as we move into the Anthropocene. Resilience within ‘natural’ ecological systems is often attributed to the diversity of the system and how strong the relationships are within the systems. This can be applied to humans, in the way of encouraging a diversity and appreciation of discipline thoughts as well as strong relationships within those connections. How do we build these connections and opportunities of collaboration? Can this process enhance the capacity to embrace fluid, reflexive and iterative thought – an increasingly advocated tool for tackling the complexities and unknowns of the Anthropocene.

In this presentation I illustrate these possibilities with a description and discussion of a workshop that I facilitate with young people (Soil thinking) that engages critically and sensually with what is beneath our feet, honouring the soil beneath us that supports life. Through an immersive process we explore the deep time (past and future) stories held within these landscapes. Asking what is our responsibility to honour and unearth the negations of the soil around us. Through this process we will unravel the materiality that binds all things through the matter cycles of soil and the sedimentation of our imaginations, building new ways of knowing, from old ways of being, by constructing knowledge together.

Kate Tilleczek

Biography: Dr. Kate Tilleczek has been examining the lives and times of children and youth for nearly three decades. She is currently a SSHRC-funded Canada Research Chair (Young Lives, Education and Global Good) and Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University in Canada.  Kate aims to witness and make space for dialogue across generations, place and time about the ways in which young people (now the largest global youth cohort in history at 1.8 billion) negotiate, experience and teach us about their global and local contexts. She is founder and director of the Young Lives Research Laboratory and is pleased to work with interdisciplinary and international teams of wonderful and talented people on 4 clusters of inquiry: 1) how youth and their communities negotiate the Anthropocene and Digital Age; 2) youth pathways into and out of wellbeing; 3) re-imagining education with/for and by youth; and 4) emerging theories and methodologies with/for and by youth. More info:  younglivesresearch.ca

Proposal title: Knowing Global Youth in/of the Anthropocene

Abstract: Today there are 1.8 billion young people on the planet, comprising 25% of the earth’s population and the largest youth cohort in history.  Young people are in distinctive positions to illuminate contested terrains about ecological devastation, sustainable lives and wellbeing in the nascent era of the Anthropocene. Indeed, I suggest that youth are a human face of the United Nations’ global Sustainable Development Goals and can teach us critiques of the developmental paradigms of modernity to which they fall prey. My paper will be discursive and outline and discuss a set of educative projects with, for and by Indigenous youth, their peers and communities. By engaging across places and generations and with unique forms of ethnographic inquiry that are global/local, decolonizing, enabling, youth-attuned and educative, our team is working to open diverse spaces for emergent understandings about wellbeing and the lives of young people in the Anthropocene. New knowledge and practice is both generated and shared with, for and by youth across the globe, into educative curricula and with public/scientific audiences. Our projects inquire into the following: What are the relationships, knowledges and practices that enable sustainable lives and wellbeing for youth in the Anthropocene? How are futures of peoples, lands and seas being written by young people and their communities in the Anthropocene? How can we authentically engage and learn from youth to broker new forms of global education with, for and by them? The discussion will share teachings from our work as might illuminate youth studies as an emergent and entangled discipline.