Prof. Aoife Daly
University College Cork

Professor Aoife Daly teaches law, and specialises in human rights law at the School of Law, University College Cork. Aoife’s research focuses on human rights-based approaches and children’s rights in areas which include environmental rights, climate activism, and access to justice. In 2023 she secured a European Research Council Consolidator Grant to build a team to carry out a large scale research study on child/youth climate justice – inside and outside the courts – around the world. She is a member of the Global Network of Human Rights and the Environment, and UCC’s Environmental Research Institute. See more.


Children/youth climate advocates ‘doing’ rights themselves: Post-paternalism for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? 

In climate activism/litigation, under-18s are often leading on a political issue on a global scale, including in litigation – this is unprecedented in human rights law. It has been long argued by some that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is interpreted in an unduly paternalistic way. Yet child/youth climate activists have, unprompted by adults, been ‘doing’ rights themselves in that they are making their own rights claims by accessing media, public spaces and courts on their own terms. Consequently children’s rights is transformed by child/youth climate activism. This paper proposes the ‘post-paternalism’ hypothesis – traditionally it is assumed that children are ‘given’ rights by adults such as the right to be heard, but youth climate activists are, on a global scale, taking control of their own rights. They are also becoming active participants in litigation in a way never seen before. Lawyers are not simply advocating ‘for’ children, but rather working alongside them as equals in many circumstances. The paper considers the effects of this disruption, and employs Liebel’s ‘children’s rights from below’ approach to consider how we could work beyond contemporary paternalistic approaches to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Prof. Lucas Gottzén
Stockholm University

Lucas Gottzén is Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden. Gottzén takes feminist and critical perspectives on youth, gender and sexuality, particularly focusing on young men and pornography, intimate partner violence and political and misogynist extremism. He is the author and editor of several academic books and anthologies, including the lead editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Masculinity Studies (2020) and Men, Masculinities, and Intimate Partner Violence (Routledge, 2021).

Lucas Gottzen


Young men and the promise of remasculinization

For many years, young men tended to be more politically progressive and positive towards women’s rights compared to older generations of men. However, recent trends indicate that young men in many Western societies are now more conservative and right-wing, and exhibit more negative attitudes towards women’s rights and gender equality compared to older men. Scholars argue that this shift can be attributed to various factors such as neoliberalism, austerity measures, and changes in the job market. These factors have contributed to job insecurity and instability, making it harder for young men to conform to traditional ideals of adult masculinity. Other researchers suggest that the rise of young men’s neoconservatism is a response to the progress of the women’s movement and marginalized groups demanding recognition and redistribution. This has left many young white men perceiving an unfair disadvantage and feeling marginalized. Consequently, some young men respond to this ‘gender threat’ by embracing misogynistic and far-right ideologies, aligning themselves with movements that promise to ‘remasculinize’ them.
In this presentation, I propose that remasculinization can be understood as a multidimensional ideology that connects individuals with societal and cultural processes. The promise of restoring manhood often resonates with personal experiences and identity, offering young men tools to address feelings of emasculation. However, remasculinization also operates at a societal level. It not only promises to restore masculinity for individual young men, but also perceives masculinity in society as threatened by non-whites, feminists, sexual minorities, and others, and therefore believes it needs to be reclaimed. I will discuss how remasculinization may manifest in five arenas within the far right and misogynist extremism. Violence is not the sole means of recuperating young masculinity; it can also be achieved through reclaiming control over one’s sexuality, working on one’s body, or fostering homosocial fellowship with other men.

Prof. Linda Herrera
University of Illinois

Linda Herrera is a professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in the Global Studies in Education program. A social anthropologist with regional expertise in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), her longstanding interests are in education and power, youth and generations, childhood in global context, the social effects of technological change, and struggles for critical democracy. She has also served as an education policy advisor in Egypt.  Her books (as single author, editor, and co-editor) include, Educating Egypt: Civic values and ideological struggles (American University in Cairo Press, 2022), Global Middle East: Into the twenty-first century (University of California Press, 2021), Revolution in the age of social media: The Egyptian popular insurrection and the internet (Verso, 2014), Wired Citizenship: Youth learning and activism in the Middle East (Routledge, 2014), Being young and Muslim: New cultural politics in the global south and north (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Cultures of Arab schooling: Critical ethnographies from Egypt (State University of New York Press, 2006).


Learning from the Middle East: The value of regional studies for the future of youth studies.

Youth studies has long been concerned with global issues and trends yet has historically been driven by research and concepts developed in specific national and regional contexts in the global North. This talk will make the case for the value of robustly incorporating knowledge and voices from regional and area studies into youth studies. In particular, it will put forward ways the field as a whole can learn from the Middle East and North Africa. Youth in the region, with their dynamic, creative, hopeful, impatient, angry, resisting, and insistent energy and initiatives, can provide insights how we, in youth studies, can prioritize our work and interventions by learning from those in the global South. Whether having to do with youth social movements in the region, everyday struggles for livelihoods, global solidarity around the climate, economic justice, and Palestine, among other issues, voices and critical research coming from the region can provide the field with cogent ideas, urgent questions, and timely new concepts. These perspectives could not only advance new forms of knowledge but build respectful collaborations and knowledge building based on more equal footing.

Ms. M., a young Afghan woman

Ms. M. is a young woman who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan. She belongs to a generation of young people who grew up in believing that they can contribute to building a better and more democratic society.  She studied in Kabul University as a junior student in the Public policy and administration faculty, and had a goal to contribute to building a society where everyone feels included. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, she has not been able to study and pursue her goals, but yet she has not given up her dream of making a change and taking part in building a better society, engaging herself in diverse activities. She is, for example, a team leader of Green Smile social team working for gender equality and civil peace. Green Smile has organized program for the high school students who could not attend schools after the Taleban regime.


Stories of the pressure of the time and the silence of the world – how can Afghan youth seek a fair and just Afghanistan?

My presentation deals with my experiences of growing up in Afghanistan. I dreamed of becoming Afghanistan’s first female president. My generation and the young people around me grew up in a relatively democratic society, but also violent and unequal. Despite this, we believed that we could play a role in creating a better and more democratic society. In the past two decades, we have worked tirelessly to make society more equal and just for all.  In 2020, I joined Kabul University to pursue my dream of creating a fair and equal society for all genders and ethnicities. Democracy gave us hope to build a better Afghanistan. We dreamed of a brighter future. The Taliban takeover shattered our goals and dreams. Today, the Taliban denies Afghan women their basic rights to education, work, and freedom of expression. In Afghanistan, men and women face challenges. Men can’t wear desired outfits, and the Taliban mocks them for their hairstyle, beard, or for listening to music. These are harsh realities for Afghans. School closures have deprived millions of Afghan girls of education. Families are now considering marriage as a replacement. This risks undoing decades of progress. I come to give my keynote speech from a forgotten part of the world where the youth is left alone in the midst of darkness and injustice. Afghan youth seek a fair and just Afghanistan but need global support. Young women, isolated in their own country, should not be forgotten by the world. As the situation in Afghanistan worsens, the voices of young people are at risk of being silenced. We must act to amplify their stories and experiences. By actively listening and sharing, we can create a brighter future for Afghan youth.

Senior Research Fellow Tuuli Kurki
University of Helsinki

Tuuli Kurki is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki, Swedish School of Social Science and the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN). Tuuli’s research interests lie mainly within critical interdisciplinary approaches, such as Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, Psychopolitics and Mad Studies, to explore racism, ableism, sanism and embodied intersectionality. Methodologically she is interested in capturing lived experiences through ethnographic research and art-based and collaborative methods. Her recent work includes Racism, Mental Health and Young People of Colour research project, funded by the Academy of Finland, that focused on the lived experiences of young people of colour in the intersections of race, gender and mental distress. Currently she leads MadEnCounters: Visibilising Counter-Stories of Mental Distress research project, funded by the Kone Foundation, which promotes the understanding of mental distress from the lived experience perspective through research and arts.


Stories of pain and love: navigating racism through collective care and peer support  

This keynote delves into the crucial question of who cares for young people of colour experiencing pain and psychic distress due to racism. In the realm of public discourses, instead of viewing racism as a societal crisis that gives rise to mental “disorders”, young people who confront racism are stigmatised as a “disorder”. This talk explores the ways in which welfare and mental health services both provide and overlook the care required to address the pain caused by racism and other forms of oppression. By drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives and ethnographic research on racism and mental distress conducted with young people of colour and adult stakeholders involved in their lives, it explores the concept of care from a critical perspective, offering a radical way of viewing care as collective effort. It visibilises how young people of colour navigate a multitude of diverse and potentially conflicting ideas regarding care, what kind of caring practices are important to them, and further, how the socio-political precariousness they face effects their caring practices. It also shows how youth peer support groups can act as counterspaces to express support, care, love and affection. However, while collective care is undoubtedly valuable, fostering collectivity and solidarity, it can also be a source of distress for young people as it is provided due to the failures of the care system. Instead of being cared for, young people need to become each other’s carers. The keynote thus advocates for an understanding of care, inspired by Black feminist thinkers such as Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Sara Ahmed, as a form of political survival, rebellion, and resistance, and calls for a loving gaze for young people of colour to ensure that the responsibility for care is not left literally on their shoulders.  

Prof. Rachel Thomson
University of Sussex

Rachel Thomson is a Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies at the University of Sussex, School of Education and Social Work. She is a sociologist whose research interests include the study of the ‘life course’ and ‘transitions’, as well as the interdisciplinary fields of gender and sexuality studies. She is a methodological innovator and is especially interested in capturing lived experience, psycho-social processes and the interplay of biographical and historical time. Recent work includes the Reanimating Data project that created a digital archive of 30 year old interviews with young women talking about their sexual lives, and then shared it with a new generation, co-producing knowledge of social continuity/change. Currently she is part of a feasibility study for the ESRC on a possible qualitative longitudinal study of seldom heard groups linked to a new UK birth cohort. Her most recent book (with Liam Berriman & Sara Bragg) is Researching Everyday Childhoods: Time, Technology and Documentation in a Digital Age (Bloomsbury open access)


Dance this mess around: celebrating youth in the ‘impasse’.

The context for this paper is a current conjuncture in which hope is in short supply. Environmental catastrophe, dismantling or non-existent welfare states, environmental and political catastrophe. Populations on the move and a politics of exclusion that abandons problem solving and historical memory. I am sure that I am not alone in struggling to teach youth studies in this context, to craft a story and to share tools that are generative, engaging and enable hope. In this presentation I will draw on the youth cultures strand of our discipline, engaging with examples of dancing and dancefloors as enduring practices and spaces of encounter, creativity and sometimes transcendence. In gathering and sharing these examples I hope to refocus my attention and yours, away from draining spectre of ‘failed transitions’ towards generative understandings of the kinds of ‘wild living’ that have always been part of living in the ‘impasse’ (as articulated by the late Lauren Berlant).