On transitions, change and continuity…

This time five years ago I was busy drafting job descriptions for the recruitment of those strangers that would eventual make up the wonderful team of colleagues that have been behind the Connectors Study: Claire Prater, Christos Varvantakis, Vinnarasan Aruldoss, and later Robyn Long.

Back then, five years seemed like such a daunting amount of time. So much to get through, and hardly a road map in sight: okay, a strong design and methodology but as we all know (though it’s different to experience it), and we have written about elsewhere, the field does and will talk back, and if you listen carefully you end up somewhere else to where you’d started from and indeed, somewhere different to where you might have even imagined going.

So here we are.  Five years down a line – a glitter line, a meandering line, a desire line – of researching the relationship between childhood and public life.

The Connectors Study is in its last 11 months (we were granted a no-cost extension by the ERC and will formally be concluding the study in September 2019). As such, I write this post at a time of endings as well as new beginnings.

Let’s start with the endings.

On January 11, 2019 we will be holding a one-day conference in London (details here), our closing event, to share theoretical and methodological advances from the study, as well as to reflect on the study’s publics creating methodologies and the ‘social life’ of a large international, European funded research project. We will also be launching the first-ever Children’s Photography Archive in the afternoon – with wine! – accompanied by an exhibition of children’s photographs from the study. We will be joined throughout the day by colleagues Rachel Rosen, Catherine WalkerMichael Guggenheim, Catherine Fehily and Annabella Pollen,as well as many of our study advisorswho will also be contributing to the event.

The event will be relevant to students and colleagues in childhood studies, as well as the anthropology, sociology and history of childhood especially those with an interest in children’s agency, children’s participation, cultures of childhood and children’s visual cultures. Our methodological discussions will be of interest to those involved in or thinking about doing multimodal ethnography with children and young people in particular. Finally, discussions on publics creating methodologies will touch on the boundaries between ethnography and cultural work, and the challenges and possibilities of transgressing those boundaries.

It would be great to see as many of you there as possible! You can book a place here.

In terms of other endings, this is the last post on the connectorsstudy.com WordPress site. I am incredibly fond of this blog and will miss it dearly. I’m really proud that as a team we’ve managed to keep it going for close to five years now, despite all the competing research commitments, and that the blog has been recognised as a good example of blogging ones way through research. We have Robyn Long to thank for its more dynamic appearance and functionalities over the last 18 months, as well as the study’s more active social media presence.

But this is not the end of the blog. So on to new beginnings and continuities.

From today, our new virtual home will be the Childhood Publics website. Childhood publics is a term we have been using from the beginning of the Connectors Study, it has served as an orienting metaphor for us throughout our fieldwork, later to be joined by two further political terms (prefiguration and commoning) with which we have been experimenting in the work of re-conceptualising the relationship between childhood and public life. We’ve gone with childhood publics for the research programme and website, as it’s a term that stuck (for better or worse) and is now recognised.

The childhood publics research programme aims to continue the work started by the Connectors Study in exploring these relationships between childhood and public life, and the ways in which children encounter, experience and engage with public life. There are various plans in the pipeline so watch this space (though not too closely because as you know these things take time!).

In the meantime, we will be closing 2018 with a six-part podcast series which you can find on the website as well as iTunes from this Wednesday 7 November. The six-part series continues in our tradition of photo/stories from the field to explore various aspects of doing ethnographic research with children including experiences of fieldwork, the historical contingency of the research, sampling and team work.

Relatedly the names of our various social media presences (twitter and facebook) have also changed to reflect these transitions (I’m struggling with facebook, bear with me!), but can continue to be found in the usual virtual places.

We are not able to migrate blog followers from this blog but we hope that some of you will be inclined to continue to follow the work of the childhood publics research programme based in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

In the meantime, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who follows the blog, tweeter and facebook feeds for engaging with the Connectors Study and for your support, general feedback and constructive criticism, as well as everyone (and there are many of you) who have in different ways supported the study and the team from its inception! It takes a village, as the saying goes…