How childish! Queering ‘youth’ and some other of the mutual challenges of queer and education research

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Queer/ed children and young people inhabit a space that seems nicely delineated by shamed biographies, fearful prospects and ignorance. In mainstream accounts, queer/ed children and young people are often un/represented through invisibility or drama, between exoticism and pity. ‘Children’ and notions of ‘the best interest of the child’ are used to dramatize and limit societal negotiations of sexuality (Pellegrini, 2009). Similarly, the riskiness of ‘youth’ offers space for reflection (Rasmussen, 2006). Within schools, young people are constructed entirely as students and as citizens-to-be, in the future tense (Edelman, 2004; Pellegrini, 2008), as well as in need of protection (Rofes, 2005) . Yet it is the ‘universal’ child who is inscribed in this future (Muñoz, 2007; Pellegrini, 2008). In the societies I am most familiar with, Sweden, Germany and Canada, young people are not full subjects ’right now’, but can only wait for ’the future’ to fully participate in the society they are trained for.
Whithin queer research, children and young people have for a long time played a minor part (Driver, 2008; Epstein, O’Flynn, & Telford, 2009; Halberstam, 2008b; Kosofsky Sedgwick, 1991). With this paper, I will engage the (no) future debate with queer youth and education research, by problematizing the discrepancy between responsibility and solidarity and the task to question our own assumptions of a queer political project (Halberstam, 2008a). How is it possible to balance the obvious need for remedial intervention and the equally important need to question stabilizing notions of ‘children’ and ‘youth’?


KonferensQueer Again? Power, Politics and Ethics International Conference of the Department of English and American Studies and the Research Training Group “Gender as a Category of Knowledge”

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