Children’s and young people’s geographies between “sandbox cities” and “playground cities”

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Inga Gryl, Jana Pokraka
Chairs: Inga Gryl


In 2001, Tonucci and Rissotto described the shift from relatively open, stimulating, and encouraging “playground cities” to “sandbox cities” as places of strict adult control. This tendency has not changed since then: Nowadays, children’s urban life is mainly limited to institutionalized places with constant supervision. Cities have become unnavigable for children. Nevertheless, youngsters only a bit older gain a certain level of control by subversive acts of the appropriation of space (Jeffrey 2012), e.g. when spending days in shopping malls without or little consuming. Educational approaches, such as Spatial Citizenship (Gryl & Jekel 2012) or activist education (Elwood & Mitchell 2013) aim at providing children and young people with the abilities to participate in spatial decision-making processes and to change such situations gradually. However, these approaches need to pay attention to the potential gap between normative objectives of education and the learners’ will. This results in a constant balancing act between a pedagogy of empowerment and one of paternalism/maternalism (Giesinger 2006).
This session invites contributions from the fields of geographies of childhood and adolescence that consider children’s and young people’s positioning between identity construction, pedagogical advocating, societal demands, consumption-oriented desires, and their will to emancipate. We welcome works from all corresponding fields of research and a diversity of scientific methods, a.o. theory development, empirical analysis, best practice and/or the design of learning environments.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jana Pokraka*, University of Duisburg-Essen, Inga Gryl, University of Duisburg-Essen, Taking over the “sandbox city”: Children’s spatial appropriation in the context of intersectional power-relations 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Neil Conner*, Delta State University, Carolyn Casale, Delta State University , Teaching Controversial Topics: promoting effective citizenship and student empathy in secondary schools 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Jessica Fan*, Indiana University , Shaping Chinese-American Children’s Ethnic Identity: Structure and Agency across Everyday Space 20 8:40 AM
Discussant Inga Gryl University of Duisburg-Essen 20 9:00 AM

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