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The Society for the History of Children and Youth is pleased to announce that its 5th Biennial Conference — Children and Youth at Risk and Taking Risks: Historical Inquiries in International Perspective — will take place at the University of California, Berkeley, July 10-12, 2009.

The Program Committee invites proposals from all those who study childhood from a historical perspective, regardless of discipline, country of study, or era.

The conference theme refers not only to children and youth who are deemed dependent or deviant, but to young people who are creative, active makers of history, who step beyond the bonds of tradition, defy age restrictions, challenge accepted norms and institutions, and help create new cultural practices, values, and sensibilities. Direct engagement with the conference theme is encouraged, but not required, of submissions.

We are especially eager to make this an international, interdisciplinary, interactive conference that will reflect the most exciting work on the history of childhood. In addition to panels presenting original research findings, we hope to include sessions on teaching and pedagogy, public history practice, new modes of presenting historical work, scholarly controversies, the historical context of contemporary issues, and updates on new scholarship in specific areas.

Along with proposals for sessions featuring formal papers, the Program Committee welcomes proposals and presentations that do not follow the traditional format. We encourage proposals that offer innovative approaches to presenting and discussing scholarship, including discussions and roundtables, pre-circulated papers, and workshops, as well as sessions featuring audio and visual resources.

We strongly prefer proposals for complete sessions, and encourage those new to the field to seek out co-panelists through H-Childhood. However, in an effort to facilitate the participation of newcomers, we will consider individual papers.

We encourage session organizers to create diverse panels and urge organizers to include papers that cross national and other categorical boundaries. Rather than a series of nation-based or regionally-specific conversations, we want to create a space for truly comparative, cross-cultural exchange.

The conference theme of risk and risk taking refers not only to young people who are “troubled” or “endangered,” but to children and youth who take active risks in creative ways. Thus proposals might look at young people as political actors, as active contributors to historical change, as defiers of cultural norms and traditions, and as creators of new

Possible topics include:

  • The Construction of Childhood and Youth as At-Risk and Risk-Taking Stages of Life
  • Discourses of Risk and Risk Taking: Legal, medical, pedagogical, psychological, and sociological
  • Shifts in the Forms, Functions, and Cultural Meaning of Risk Taking
  • Creative Risk Taking: Risk taking as a challenge to cultural norms, traditions, institutions, and age restrictions
  • Risk Factors Over Time: Poverty, neglect and abuse, malnutrition, environmental risks, health and developmental problems, migrant status, family disruption, war and natural disaster, peer pressure, trafficking, child work, and consumption
  • Contexts Influencing Risk and Risk Taking: Age, class, environment, gender, race and ethnicity, religion
  • Resilience in Children
  • Efforts to Protect Children from Risk and Risk Taking

Proposals must be submitted electronically no later than Midnight, Eastern Standard Time, February 15, 2009. All proposals must include the following information: a complete mailing address, e-mail, phone number, and affiliation for each participant; an abstract of no more than 500 words for the session as a whole; a prospectus of no more than 250 words for each presentation (for paper sessions and, if you wish, for roundtables, panels and workshops do not allow for individual presentation abstracts); and, a vita of no more than 500 words for each participant.

Note: All individuals who are on the program must be members of SHCY at the time of the conference.

Please submit the proposal as email attachments to the program committee chair, Steven Mintz, at, for consideration.

CFP – Children and Youth at Risk and Taking Risks: Historical Inquiries in International Perspective