After Childhood: Re-thinking Environment, Materiality and Media in Children's Lives, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

After Childhood

Re-thinking Environment, Materiality and Media in Children's Lives, 1st Edition

By Peter Kraftl


296 pages | 35 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138088245
pub: 2020-04-20
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This book offers a new approach for theorising and undertaking childhood research. It combines insights from childhood and generational studies with object-oriented ontologies, new materialisms, critical race and gender theories to address a range of key, intractable challenges facing children and young people.

Bringing together traditional social-scientific research methods with techniques from digital media studies, archaeology, environmental nanoscience and the visual arts, After Childhood: Re-thinking Environment, Materiality and Media in Children's Lives presents a way of doing childhood research that sees children move in and out of focus. In doing so, children and their experiences are not completely displaced; rather, new perspectives on concerns facing children around the world are unravelled which dominant approaches to childhood studies have not yet fully addressed. The book draws on the author’s detailed case studies from his research in historical and geographical contexts. Examples range from British children’s engagement with plastics, energy and other matter, to the positioning of diverse Brazilian young people in environmental and resource challenges, and from archaeological evidence about childhoods in the USA and Europe to the global circulation of children’s toys through digital media.

The book will appeal to human geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, education studies scholars and others working in the interdisciplinary field of childhood studies, as well as to anyone looking for a range of novel, interdisciplinary frames for thinking about childhood.



"After Childhood is a much-needed breath of fresh air into childhood studies, particularly that in the new materialist and posthumanist vein. Working from his frustration with some of current childhood scholarship, Peter Kraftl offers ambitious new openings while remaining humble and aware of the contributions and work done so far in the field.

Kraftl’s book is a gentle, yet passionate and adamant push further for every childhood scholar. The book succeeds in disturbing one’s sense of comfort and accomplishment at the face of increasingly complex environmental and social challenges that cut across and matter to children in sometimes even traumatizing ways. It is clear we need to do more and to think more, and differently. And for this After Childhood provides new terminology, resurrects old approaches and suggests creative couplings.

For one, Kraftl suggests we cannot begin with childhoods or where the child is. Rather we need to first move children as if out of the focus, and only after locate children’s positions within the given situations or phenomena studied. Imperative, to Kraftl, is that this endeavor is a collective one: that childhood scholars join forces with others in and beyond social sciences. The book provides empirical examples of this as Kraftl discusses a range of interdisciplinary collaborations from social media analyses to nanoscientific techniques, all the while asking: "Where, exactly, is the child?"

- Pauliina Rautio, Senior Research Fellow, University of Oulu, Finland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; List of Figures and Tables; 1. Introduction: thinking and doing after childhood; 2. Childhood studies, after childhood; 3. Nexus-thinking and resource-power: cuts through childhood, cuts through the earth; 4. Speculative childhoods: matters beyond materialities; 5. Media: visibility, circulation, and some stuff about childhoods; 6. Infra-generations: after-lives, or, what lies beneath; 7. Energy; 8. Synthesis and stickiness: lives of plastics, metals and other elements; 9. Conclusions: after childhood; References; Index

About the Author

Peter Kraftl is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Birmingham, UK. His research focuses on geographies of children and young people, and geographies of education. He has published eight books and over 50 journal articles, including Children Living in Sustainable Built Environments (Routledge, 2017).

About the Series

Routledge Spaces of Childhood and Youth Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography