Where have all the children been? Children’s unseen contributions to pandemic survival

With Jean Hunleth

Amidst the pandemic chaos of 2020 we asked, where have all the children gone? In our podcast that year for AAA’s Raising our Voices we drew attention to children’s silencing in COVID-19 policy and media reports, speculated on the consequences of children’s erasure, and drew from the anthropology of childhood to suggest how we might think about and un-silence children’s experiences of the pandemic. Two years on, we this time ask: where have all the children been? We share our observations from our own studies with children in urban and rural U.S and New Zealand to piece together a story of pandemic childhoods that extends beyond public constructions of children as risks, vulnerable, and suffering. Reporting on comic-making with Auckland children during Delta and Omicron outbreaks, Julie Spray shares how she learnt to think of children as public health promoters as part of her Pandemic Generation study. Jean Hunleth reflects on how young people illustrated care giving and receiving during COVID-19 in her photographic study, Picturing Health by Rural Adolescents in the MidwEst (PHRAME). In particular, we ask: what have children contributed to families, communities, and nations during the pandemic? We highlight the unseen caregiving and self-care work, health promotion activities, and labor that children and young people have engaged in towards multiple dimensions of pandemic survival. We highlight new methods for accessing children’s lives during times of crisis and physical distance. And we underscore the importance of visibilizing children’s contributions, both to acknowledge the value of children’s work to society, and to create policy that better supports the realities of children’s lives.


THE PREQUEL Julie-spray – Where-have-all-the-children-gone-the-silencing-and-un-silencing-of-children-in-americas-pandemic

Op-Ed on Pandemic Schooling: www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/comme…sy-story.html

Max Liboiron, “Exchanging,” in Transmissions: Critical Tactics for Making and Communicating Research. Ed. Kat Jungnickel. (MIT Press, 2020). 95.

Jean’s Team’s Zine: issuu.com/hunlethlab/docs/play…s_a_mode_of_research

Lola’s Comic: juliespray.com/pandemic-generati…mic-gallery/#Lola

“Chicken Wing Getting the Shot” by Clarissa Gaona Romero
“Lola Making Her Comic” by Julie Spray
Excerpt from Lola’s comic, by Lola

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