Childhood Publics & the Child’s Gaze

A three-part seminar series critical engaging with childhood publics and the child’s gaze.

With the advent of smartphones, tablets and digital cameras, children are taking more and more photos – and what happens to these images? The three-part seminar series Childhood Publics And the Child’s Gaze aims to creatively reimagine the archival, aesthetic, ethical, legal and technical affordances of children’s photography for research and practice, bringing our understanding and practice of children’s photography into the 21st century.

To this end, three thematically linked seminars, explore the infrastructures for the child’s gaze from a theoretical, methodological, and ethical perspective. Our series will open with the first seminar dedicated to the unpacking of how the image of the child is constructed throughout history in the public sphere, and in particular the press and other media outlets. Taking the images of childhood as an entry point into the notion of the ‘gaze’, in our second seminar we will move to explore children’s gazes onto the world and the issues involved in making those gazes public. The third seminar brings the series full circle through an explicit focus on the ethics and infrastructures for the child’s gaze.

These three in-person day-long events will be held in April, May and June 2023 at Goldsmiths, University of London. Separate registration is required for each seminar. Morning sessions will be open to academics, students, and the general public; afternoon workshops will be reserved for academics and students, with priority given to doctoral and early career researchers and researchers working in non-academic contexts.

To register for the morning sessions please click through to the individual seminar registration pages on our Eventbrite pages or below.

Seminar 1, Childhood publics: Gazing at childhood in the public sphere (April 20, 2023) is the first in the Childhood Publics And The Child’s Gaze Seminar Series. The seminar critically explores traditions of picturing childhood in the public sphere. By engaging with and juxtaposing art history readings of paintings, journalistic practices of representing children and children’s issues, and digital practices of putting children’s photographs online, we aim to track the infrastructures and affordances that give rise to public visualisations of the child. In the afternoon workshop, we will analyse selected mundane and controversial images of childhood found online and in print media. 


  • Melissa Benn, Journalist and Author
  • Liam Berriman, Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies, Sussex University
  • Ioanna Noula, The Internet Commission & Dept of Media and Communications, LSE

Discussion moderator: Zoe Walshe, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Seminar 2, Childhood publics: Children returning the gaze (May 11, 2023) centres the child’s gaze in these infrastructures and affordances. The seminar aims to demonstrates the ways in which the child’s gaze disrupts public visualisations of the child, and in so doing gives rise to new ways of appreciating both childhood and photography. In the afternoon workshop, we will use the current collections from the Children’s Photography Archive to develop an understanding of the child’s gaze. 


  • Anne Chahine, Research Associate, Research Institute for Sustainability, Potsdam
  • Wendy Luttrell, Professor of Urban Education and Sociology, Graduate Centre, The City University of New York
  • Melissa Nolas, Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

Discussion moderator: Brenda Herbert, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Seminar 3, Childhood publics: Ethics and infrastructures for the child’s gaze (June 16, 2023) builds on the first two seminars and critically engages with the role of archival infrastructure and ethics of care in constructing the child photographer. The seminar aims to critically evaluate the possibilities that archives and museums might play in a future that takes the child photographer seriously. In the afternoon, we will workshop various scenarios of child photography to develop sensibilities for ethical practice.


  • Scarlett Evans, Journalist and Manager for Contemporary Art, The Girl Museum
  • Gayatri Nair, Chennai Photo Biennale, Chennai, India
  • Annebella Pollen, Professor of Visual and Material Culture, University of Brighton
  • Christos Varvantakis, Wikimedia Germany, and co-Director the Children’s Photography Archive

Discussion moderator: Elina Moraitopoulou, Hamburg University/Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit our workshop registration form. You only need to register for the workshop once. Please note that in order for your participation to be considered you need to be able to attend at least two out of the three workshops and it is assumed that you will attend their morning sessions too. Priority will be given to those who can attend all three seminars because one of our aims is to create a community of researchers working with children, young people and photography in various spaces, who may want to continue to support each other beyond this event and linked workshops. Workshop applications will be closing on March 10thDeadline for workshop applications has been extended until March 24th to accommodate various breaks in work through strike action.

The seminar series is organised by Sevasti-Melissa Nolas, Brenda Herbert, Zoe Walshe (all Goldsmiths, University of London) and Elina Moraitopoulou (Hamburg University/Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and the Children’s Photography Archive. The events are part of the Sociological Review Seminar Series and have been funded by the Sociological Review Foundation.

Further inquiries: Sevasti-Melissa Nolas [email protected]


Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London