Socialism, Capitalism, and Childhood: Material Lives and Mutual Imaginations

20-21 OCTOBER 2021

Call for papers

In the contemporary United States and beyond, emotional pedagogies aimed at children construct subjectivities that are suited to neoliberal visions of productivity and self-management, even as journalists ponder why some young people find the notion of “socialism” to be ever more appealing in the era of Trump. In 20th century Europe, visions of childhood were vital to socialist discourses about the good life, and they undoubtedly figure prominently in efforts to remake the fabric of postsocialist everyday lives and economies. Indeed, constructions of childhood, youth, and familial politics are integral to the ways researchers and laypeople routinely understand what capitalism and socialism mean and are – why they are desirable or repulsive, respectively, and how they may yet transform – in a lived and immediate sense.

This conference hub seeks to bring together researchers working in capitalist, socialist, and/or postsocialist settings, past and present, and across the social sciences and humanities, to illuminate how childhood and the experiences of children, youth, and parenting define the meanings of socialism and capitalism in highly material and often implicit ways.  Topics of discussion might include:

  • – material and sensory aspects of children and parents’ engagements with commodities, social media, and other aspects of political economy;
  • – specific uses of childhood to define socialism, capitalism, and their distinct visions of prosperity – whether separately or in relationship to one another;
  • – articulations of emotionality, affect, and selfhood in relation to contexts/concepts of neoliberalism and/or postsocialism;
  • – children and childhood in Cold War imaginings of East and West;
  • – youth politics and representations of capitalism and/or socialism/postsocialism.

Projects can be comparative across time and space, but need not be; rather, we imagine that locally specific observations and theorizations will contribute to our broader, collective project of comparison and inter-articulation. We welcome conventional academic papers as well as visual (photographic, video, etc.) projects and other creative proposals. Relevant fields of study include but are not limited to:  anthropology, sociology, history, cultural studies, education, cultural geography, art history, philosophy, women’s/gender/sexuality/queer studies, performance studies, and childhood studies.

Contact e-mail for Atlanta hub
: Professor Jennifer Patico

Image Copyright by Felix Besombes on Unsplash