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30 April 2021
Studies of childhoods in the Global South: towards an epistemic turn in transnational childhood research?
The most well-known and widely cited literature in the multidisciplinary field of childhood studies has been undertaken by scholars based in the Global North, who have produced theoretical frameworks and conceptualisations about childhood frequently deployed by Northern and Southern scholars alike. These are based on priorities developed in Northern academic institutions, sometimes in response to funding calls by grant-making agencies also based in the North.
It can be argued, though, that most contributions about childhoods in the Global South, at least, are undertaken by scholars based in institutions in the South. However, as they are often published in languages other than English, or in journals which are local or regional to their contexts, most of these contributions are invisible and overlooked by dominant childhood studies discourses. Additionally, there is evidence of implicit bias in the decisions made by the editorial management teams of some high-ranking journals based in Europe and North America (Victora and Moreira, 2006). This further compounds unequal knowledge production processes.
As a result, when Southern scholars contribute to the dominant childhood studies literature, which tends to be in English and published in journals edited primarily by Northern-based scholars, their contributions stand mainly as empirical variations of mainstream Northern theories whose scholarship foregrounds theoretical and methodological frameworks designed with particular childhoods in mind (Rabello de Castro, 2020). The outcome of this process is that Global South childhoods – in their plurality and diversity – do not contribute epistemically to the construction of a transnational childhood scientific discourse. This ultimately limits the quality of global childhood studies and hinders the development of more effective, eventually divergent, theoretical frameworks that can account for multiplicity and diversity in childhoods.
This begs the question: what would a body of literature focusing on Southern childhoods look like when epistemologically driven by the demands (social, cultural, economic, political) of the localities in which they are shaped and produced?
Therefore, this special issue seeks to explore locally driven perspectives of childhoods in diverse contexts in the South to produce knowledge of Southern childhoods determined not by Northern priorities and frameworks but by local needs and contexts. It is expected that all papers in this special issue will adopt this approach focusing on exploring childhoods through a local lens. We particularly welcome submissions which present alternative formulations, either theoretically and/or methodologically, for the study of children in the South, as well as those that engage with current problems in Northern conceptualisations of childhood in the Global South.
This special issue of Third World Thematics will be edited by Dr. Afua Twum-Danso Imoh (University of Bristol, UK), Professor Lucia Rabello de Castro (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Dr. Orna Naftali (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel).
The authors of the contributions selected for the special issue will be invited to virtual workshops on the publishing process and to present their papers before they are formally submitted for peer review.
This special issue is part of the Third World Thematics Global South Workshop series, supported by the Global South Colloquium Fund.
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