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Transitional geographies: making mobile children

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Geographers of childhood have variously accounted for the experiences of mobile children. Less has been said about the practices of becoming mobile, including the acquisition of skills, engagement with travel technologies and the shifting child-parent relations implicated in the process. This article explores the making of mobile children through ethnographic research with 7-12-year-olds practising the journey between home and school in Helsinki, Finland. Elaborating on the work of psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott, it argues that families enact flexible spatial arrangements—transitional spaces—to experiment with their attachments to urban environments. Transitional spaces foreground the diverse relations between children, parents and the world, allowing the replacement of standard notions about growing up with situated accounts of how families make space for children's expanding mobilities. Against a cultural atmosphere stressing the risks and uncertainties of childhood, this view opens an affirmative approach to children's geographies—one that emphasises the trust, play and collaboration between adults, children and environments.
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Keywords: agency; children's geographies; mobility; relationality; transitional space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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