CFP – Special Issue of Jeunesse on Borders

Call for Papers
Special Issue of Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures: Borders

In an attempt to think about borders at a time when they appear so intractable, Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures invites abstracts on all matters pertaining to borders in relation to young people’s texts and cultures for a special issue that will be published in Winter 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, played out most cruelly on the bodies of young migrants forcibly separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border since April 2018, highlights the continued need to consider the often destructive role that borders play in the lives of young people. In this case, the border is national, the product of the social construction that is the nation, or what we might call, borrowing the words of Benedict Anderson, an imagined community. In other words, there is nothing natural about nations or their borders; rather, nations come into being when numerous strangers scattered across great distances begin to perceive themselves as belonging to a larger body politic. Anderson argues that print capitalism was instrumental to the formation of nations, since strangers could, as a result of learning about others in distant locations in their own vernacular, feel as though they had something in common with them. He explains that “all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined,” and that they “are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined” (6). Despite the fact that they are imagined political communities, nations have real and often devastating material effects, both on those within their borders, who may or may not experience a sense of belonging, and those attempting to cross their borders. For many migrants, for example, national borders can be a site of bodily intrusion. Even in their less physical form, national borders literally obstruct movement, since the movement of goods and capital within a grossly unequal playing field of world trade benefits some countries and decimates others. Such inequity helps to determine the movement of people as well. As many have been quick to point out since the beginning of Trump’s war on child arrivals, immigrants, refugees, visa-seekers, amnesty applicants and other vulnerable people, the U.S. is deeply complicit in migration patterns: Decades of U.S. foreign and economic policies have effectively made many other nations dangerous or unlivable. The current administration’s policy stance on immigration is both tone deaf and history-blind. It is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.

As the continuing war on refugees and immigrants in the U.S. and elsewhere demonstrate, young people are often caught at the border or, worse, killed in the borderlands. At the same time, young people themselves may contribute to attempts at policing borders. These borders need not be confined to national ones. Borders come in many forms, including frontiers, boundaries, edges, margins, perimeters, and peripheries. Imagined or not, borders can surround, enclose, encircle, flank, fringe, hem, or adjoin. As these contradictory meanings suggest, borders are infinitely messy and complex despite their pretensions to sieve-like hygienic purpose, cleanliness, simplicity, and even purity.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Borders and refugee children
  • Childhood on the border; children and borderlands
  • Children and borders under UNCRC
  • Borders and carceral culture; incarcerated young people; representations of incarcerated young people
  • Characteristics of borders in the “global south/north” dynamic and the impact of colonization on First Nations and other indigenous young people
  • Socioeconomic borders and young people
  • Borders and racialization of young people; young people and racism
  • Borders between self and other, child and parent; borders of independent selfhood
  • Borders and personhood; the borders of personhood
  • Borders of childhood; the border separating child from adult
  • Young people and lost borders; imagined or remembered borders
  • Bodily borders and young people
  • Borders, sex, and gender; sex and gender in the borderland; children/young adults and transgender; transgender texts by, for, or about young people
  • Young people and the borders of risk/danger: young people’s negotiation of risk and danger, their negotiation or mapping of public spaces in terms of risk and danger; their performance or embodiment of safety, protection, and confidence in public spaces; their innovative negotiations of identity and morality in such spaces
  • Geographical borders and young people; attempts to police young people’s mobility in public spaces; borders between adult space and space designated as children’s space (e.g. playgrounds); borders between time and space
  • Borders between the “homed” and the “unhomed”; precariously housed young people; street-involved young people
  • Borders between the urban and the suburban and young people
  • Borders erected between nature and culture; attempts to keep children in nature-lands; young people’s negotiations of rural and urban environments
  • Architectural borders and young people; young people and design; the role that design plays in erecting or blurring borders between children and adults
  • Borders and disability; young people’s negotiations of ableist spaces
  • Formal and informal transgression and policing of borders of legality; young people’s interactions with authority/law enforcement; their negotiation of the borders of legality; the role that support workers play in providing assistance in shoring up borders of legality
  • Generational borders
  • Negotiating border control and regulation through youth activism; youth-led social and political movements and how these cross borders and boundaries
  • The negotiation and transgression of youth subcultural borders


  • Abstracts are due October 15, 2018
  • Short-listed papers will be notified on or around November 5, 2018
  • Final papers due February 1, 2019
  • Peer-review: February-May 2019
  • Revisions: May-August 2019
  • Publication: Fall/Winter 2019

Inquiries may be directed to Lauren Bosc, Managing Editor:

Further information about submission guidelines is available at:

Work Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, 1983.