Call for Papers, 25-27 June 2020

Children and Youth Speaking Up and Speaking Out
Manchester Metropolitan University, 25-27 June 2020


The last two years have seen some of the most powerful youth protest movements
in decades. Greta Thunberg’s school strike calling for climate action inspired a global campaign among millions of school children.

In the United States, March for Our Lives saw hundreds of thousands of young people demonstrating against gun violence in one of the largest youth protests in US history. From possessed and prophetic children, to young people participating in industrial disputes and school strikes, to violent gangs imposing themselves on their peers, the young have endeavoured to convey their own feelings and views, while adults have tried to explain and interpret them. Young people speaking up and speaking out raises questions about how the youthful voice has been conceptualized in qualitative historical research and what is meant by children’s rights. ‘Speaking up and speaking out’ has not necessarily taken a verbal form and not all children and young people have been able either to speak up or speak out, given a variety of constraining forces. Conversely, collective action has taken many forms, from the Children’s Crusade (1212) to traditions of ‘misrule’ and role-reversal.

This third biennial conference of the Children’s History Society consequently seeks to explore the challenges and possibilities of researching how children and young people have resisted, confronted or acceded in societies that have rarely valued their voices, in the face of adults who have tried to restrain them and enforce silence in different historical settings and eras.

Conference format

We welcome papers from across Ancient, Medieval and Modern History, from established and upcoming historians of children, childhood and youth.

We encourage contributions from school-age scholars and youth in their teens to showcase their work on children and young people in history and from collaborative community engagement projects.

Proposals for workshops, panel discussions and alternative forms of presentation are also welcome.

venue and accessibility

The conference will be hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, the world’s first industrial city. Manchester has a history of radical politics and protest,
a vibrant music (and football) scene, famous art galleries, museums and libraries, many within walking distance of each other. Lovely countryside, such as the Peak District and Lake District is within easy reach by train.

The conference venue is accessible with accessible parking. Lecture theatres are accessible for wheelchair users and have hearing loop facilities installed.


We invite panel contributions (especially long chronological and/or geographically diverse in collective scope) as well as individual papers on topics related to the conference theme, which might include:

  • Protest and demonstration
  • Subversive behavior
  • Speaking out in work and play
  • Young people in political spaces and places
  • Having their say: children’s rights
  • The ethics of representing youthful voices (past and contemporary) in qualitative research
  • Representing young people’s voices in museums and heritage sites
  • Adult memories of their youthful voice
  • Young people’s writing and art
  • Young people in visual and narrative culture
  • Conflicting and conflicted childhoods
  • Voices from the margins
  • Unequal voices: inequalities and growing up
  • Narratives of the vulnerable and marginalized
  • The emotional voice and spirit of resistance
  • Bodies, emotions and transitions: non-verbal communication
  • Autonomy, dependence, interdependence: relations between children, adults, and the state
  • Mental health, illness and mortality: developing resilience
  • Possessed and prophetic children and young people: speaking out with supernatural voices 
  • The citizen child: belonging and patriotism
  • ‘In the best interests of the child’: children and their experts
  • Youth under threat, youth in danger
  • Youthful voices in conflict
  • Racialised upbringings
  • Youthful peer relationships
  • Youth as producers and consumers
  • Experiences of school and higher education
  • Transnational comparisons and contrasts
  • Youthful viewpoints as misrepresented
  • Critiques of youthful voices
  • The challenges of children’s voices
  • Agency and beyond

Please note that our definitions of children and youth are flexible, reflecting the multiple constructions through time of these social categories.


ForFor individual papers, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a 2-page CV, to by 1 November 2019. Panel submissions featuring three papers of 15-20 minutes apiece are also encouraged, and should be submitted collectively by the panel organiser. Please state your contact email address on the abstract. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in January 2020. We expect the selection process to be competitive, and hence we will prioritise panels and papers directly addressing the overall conference theme as well as one or more sub-themes.

All attendees and presenters need to join the Children’s History Society in order to participate in the conference. By joining up you will be contributing to an expanding series of activities and bursaries that the CHS undertakes. To receive details of how to join, please visit the CHS website:

In the meantime, keep up to date with the activities of The Children’s History Society and developments within the field on Twitter and Facebook: and

With warm regards
Professor Melanie Tebbutt
Dr Mary Clare Martin
Dr Simon Sleight
and members of the organising committee from the History Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University:
Dr Jenny Cromwell
Dr Shirin Hirsch
Dr Marie Molloy
Dr April Pudsey.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s