RGS-IBG International Conference 2022, Newcastle, 30 Aug – 2 Sept
Play, ‘recovery’ and urban space
Sponsored by Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group and Urban Geography Research Group.
During the course of the coronavirus pandemic, play in urban space – rainbow trails, children scooting, pavement chalking, for example – emerged as both a hopeful and contentious practice. On the one hand suggesting fun, connection and freedom for children, their families and communities, often in contrast to the overriding atmospheres of repeated restrictions and lockdowns; on the other as something frivolous, risky, and even illegal. As hopes were pinned on an emergence from the pandemic, organisations in diverse national contexts called for play to be at the heart of the ‘recovery’ (Cortés-Morales et al, 2021). At the same time, debates in many different places around the use – and reallocation – of urban space, in the pandemic and beyond, became one of the focuses of discussions around “building back better”, proposing urban spaces that were more human, more accessible, and more playful.
The role of play as a space for recovery and repair is at the heart of much longstanding work on play – play can be a space where connections are made, emotions are revealed and worked through, and, simply, where fun is had. But, as exemplified during the pandemic, play is not unproblematic; attitudes towards play and unequal access to space for play, for example, pose challenges to the potential for play to contribute to environmentally and socially just futures (McKendrick et al, 2015; Horton and Kraftl, 2018). As such, it is potentially productive to think about the place of play in ‘recovery’ not only from the pandemic, but also from diverse urban crises of family, health, housing and community, the environment, violence, and much more, at scales from the personal to the global, and past and present.
This session seeks submissions of papers which explore how play figures in dialogues, policies, practices and experiences of ‘recovery’ in urban spaces. We welcome papers that report research at a variety of scales, from a diversity of locations, and that engage with both empirical and/or more conceptual approaches.
Cortés-Morales, S., Holt, L., Acevedo-Rincón, Aitken, S., Ekman Ladru, D., Joelsson, T., Kraftl, P., Murray, L. and Tebet, G., 2021, Children living in pandemic times: A geographical, transnational and situated view, Children’s Geographies, online first.
Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. 2018. Three playgrounds: Researching the multiple geographies of children’s outdoor play, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50/1, pp.214-235.
McKendrick, J., Kraftl, P., Mills, S., Gregorius, S. and Sykes, G. 2015. Complex geographies of play provision dis/investment across the UK, International Journal of Play, 4/3, pp.228-235.
The session format will be “live hybrid”, with presenters presenting in-person, to a live audience but, we hope, with capacity for attendees to also view online and be able to ask questions through an online platform.
We are committed to inclusivity and safety for all participants and presenters at our session.
Further details on the RGS Annual Conference are available here.