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Peter Kraftl

Peter Kraftl

Title: Children, Young People and the Anthropocene

Abstract: This talk will explore children and young people’s entanglements with the socio-environmental changes and challenges prompted by the Anthropocene. It will begin by broadly outlining how children and young people have been and could be positioned in respect of threats such as resource scarcity, climate change and environmental degradation – from discourses of vulnerability, to questions of children’s agency, to fears about eco-anxiety and intergenerational justice. Thereafter, the talk focuses on one recent project – ‘Plastic Childhoods’ – that sought to trace the many and diverse ways in which children’s lives, bodies and environments are entangled with plastics and other chemical elements that are redolent of the Anthropocene. This part of the talk will explore a range of activities that took place within and beyond a secondary school geography classroom: social media analyses of the circulation of child-related plastic objects; a series of hands-on workshops, including a plastic sculpture session co-organised with artists; and, the use of environmental nanoscience techniques to determine, visualise and prompt reflection about the presence of plastics and other chemicals in children’s bodies and environments. Throughout, I draw out a range of conceptual themes and questions – for instance around hyperobjects, story-telling and speculation – that place centrally a concern with children and young people within critical analyses of the Anthropocene. I also briefly explore the implications of such themes and questions for scholarship on identity categories (including childhood and youth).

Professor Peter Kraftl (he/him/his), FRGS, FAcSS, FRSA

Chair in Human Geography

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Telephone: 0044 (0)121 4145524 

Homepage: @peterkraftl

Executive Member and Children, Young People & Families Programme Co-Lead, NIHR School for Public Health Research:

Co-Lead, Voices of the Future (UKRI Treescapes) project:

Co-Lead, PANEX-Youth (young people’s COVID-19 adaptation and resilience):

Code Red Alliance: