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"Remembering the future: Conflict, Memory, and the Temporalities of Youth and Social Change"

4th International Children's Geographies Conference: Young People, Borders & Well-Being
San Diego, California, 12-15th January 2015

Session Co-organisers: Professor Lynn Staeheli and Dr. David Marshall

Young people's direct experiences of conflict and war have been much studied, particularly by researchers in the field of childhood trauma. Less often considered is how young people learn about and understand histories of violence in societies seeking to overcome conflict.

In societies divided by political violence, memory itself becomes a site of intense and overt political contestation. While individually experienced, this memory is not personal, but rather social and spatial in nature. Memory infuses certain sites, making them heavy with the symbolic weight of history. Memory also shapes perceptions of space, spatial practices, orientations, and the spatial stories that give everyday life coherence. Collective memories of violence are thus transgenerational – events are felt and remembered in the present by those not alive when they occurred. Young people occupy sites of social memory but may derive different meanings from those sites, and thus contribute to the changing understandings and interpretations of the past. That young people are often perceived to be loosely embedded in the sediment of history produces both optimism and anxiety about the potential of young people to bring about change or heal wounds. This session opens up the question of how young people learn to remember, what they learn to forget, and the processes by which memories and silences get transmitted and transformed.

Geographers have attended to the challenges of approaching childhood through memory (Jones 2003; 2008; Philo 2003; Paksuniemi 2013), as well as the politics of memory and trauma (Till 2012; Marshall 2013). This session asks us to think further about how young people participate in this politics of memory, and their role in reproducing and transforming social memory. Special attention here is given to memories of violence and conflict, and the various efforts by states, civil society organizations, and other actors who engage young people as agents of change capable of renegotiating contentious histories and writing more hopeful futures. In particular we invite interventions examining how young people understand, interpret, and contest histories of division and conflict, how young people experience sites of social memory or trauma, and efforts to re-write, erase, or reconstruct various histories, futures, and presents through "the youth." We also encourage contributions that engage with the methodological challenge of working with transgenerational social memory.

Please send titles and abstracts of no more than 250 words to David Marshall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday July 25th. Further details about the 4th International Children's Geographies Conference can be  found at http://icgcsandiego.wix.com/ypbw.

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