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School of Geography

Description of the project

l-r: Mare Street, Hackney, 2003 © Eithne Nightingale; ‘Mappa-Mundi’ Jigsaw Puzzle and Board game, 1935–40 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Children’s Party, South London, 2010.

Encompassing but moving beyond the study of children’s literature and the content of formal education, the three doctoral projects will use the collections and institutional resources of the V&A Museum of Childhood to investigate the ways in which a diverse array of children have engaged with the wider world.

The objects that they use and own, the games that they play, the friends that they have, the ways in which they live and the movements and migrations of their own families will all be drawn upon in order to trace this engagement. If the importance of concepts of home and abroad in literature produced for young readers has been established (Nodelman and Reimer, 2003), their intersection in the everyday lives and experiences of children has received less sustained examination.

Until now, the focus has been very much on the contemporary period and often in a North American context (Cannella and Kincheloe, 2002; Fass, 2007). In what may be described as a ‘global turn’ in childhood studies and histories of childhood, the relationship between globalization and children has received considerable attention and continues to do so. This programme contributes to ongoing debates concerning the impact of globalization, positive and negative, on children’s lives and the ways in which they themselves perceive these processes. However, the programme also seeks to probe these issues in depth with respect to earlier periods and in a specifically British context.

Tracing perceptions and experiences of here and elsewhere from the late nineteenth century through to the present day will allow the programme to explore the differences and similarities between situations of empire, transnational migration and global citizenship. Each will be explored in terms of both children’s sense of wonder at the wider world, and their responses to the violence, pain and trauma of empire-building, displacement, poverty and warfare across the globe as experienced by themselves and others, young and old.

The three doctoral projects share the following aims and objectives:

  • to connect children’s everyday lives to global processes
  • to reconstruct the experiences of individual children
  • to utilise neglected sources for the study of childhood (including material objects, costume, home video and participatory  projects)
  • to develop an innovative methodology that includes the analysis of archives, texts, images and objects alongside participatory research with adults and children
  • to develop display and learning resources for the V&A Museum of Childhood and to contribute to the strategic plan to redisplay the collections and to build research capacity.


  • Anderson, J. et al., 'What is Geography's Contribution to Making Citizens?' in Geography Volume 93, Part 1, 2008
  • Brookshaw, S., 'The Material Culture of Children and Childhood' in Journal of Material Culture, Volume 14, Number 3, 2009
  • Cannella, G. and Kincheloe, J., 'Kidworld: Childhood Studies, global perspectives, and education', New York: P. Lang, 2002
  • Fass, P., 'Children of a new world : society, culture, and globalization', New York: New York University Press, 2007
  • Massey, D., ‘World City’, Cambridge: Polity, 2007
  • Nodelman, P. and Reimer, M., 'The Pleasures of Children's Literature', Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003
  • Norcia, M., 'Playing Empire: Children's Parlor Games, Home Theatricals, and Improvisational Play' in Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 4, 2004
  • Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency, ‘Developing a Global Dimension in the School Curriculum’, 2005
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