Alter-childhoods: biopolitics and childhoods in alternative education spaces

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In this article, I consider “alter-childhoods”: explicit attempts to imagine, construct, talk about, and put into practice childhoods that differ from perceived mainstreams. I critically examine alter-childhoods at fifty-nine alternative education spaces in the United Kingdom. I analyze alternative education spaces through the lens of biopolitics, developing nascent work in children's geographies and childhood studies around hybridity and biopower. I focus on two key themes: materialities and (non)human bodies; intimacy, love, and the human scale. Throughout the analysis, I offer a limited endorsement of the concept of alter-childhoods. Although there exist many attempts to construct childhoods differently, the “alternative” nature of those childhoods is always muddied, complicated, and dynamic. Thus, the concept of alter-childhoods is useful for examining the biopolitics of childhood and for children's geographers more generally—but only when considered as a critical tool and questioning device.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-237
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • children's geographies, emotion and affect, geographies of alternative education, hybrid childhoods, the body