KEYNOTE: The Complex Precursors, Legacies, and Possibilities of Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins
Dr. Sara L. Schwebel is Professor and Director of the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. A historian by training, her research centers on the historical narratives young people absorb through frequently assigned fiction and nonfiction—as well as the way K-12 educators can challenge the heritage-based approach long central to school history. Schwebel is the author of Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms (Vanderbilt UP, 2011), editor of Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition (U of California Press, 2016),
co-editor, with Jocelyn Van Tuyl, of Dust Off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children’s Literature at the Newbery Centennial (Routledge, 2022) and, in collaboration with student researchers and the National Park Service (United States), author of the Books to Parks site on Christopher Paul Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 (forthcoming) and Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, a survival story (ending in Santa Barbara) that has long been celebrated as a feminist and environmental text but which problematically positions an indigenous Californian as both a “girl Crusoe” and “the last of her tribe.” Before beginning her academic career, Schwebel taught middle school U.S. history and English Language Arts.
KEYNOTE: Thinking with Black Ecologies in Early Childhood Studies
Dr. Fikile Nxumalo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, where she directs the Childhood Place Pedagogy Lab. She is also affiliated faculty in the School of the Environment. Her scholarship focuses on developing possibilities for anti-colonial early childhood environmental education. Her work seeks to make conceptual, methodological, curricular and pedagogical contributions in disrupting settler colonial erasures and anti-Blackness in environmental education for young children. Fikile’s scholarship works across multiple fields including childhood studies, children’s geographies, Indigenous and Black studies, social studies of science, and the environmental humanities and sciences. Her book, Decolonizing Place in Early Childhood Education (Routledge, 2019) examines the entanglements of place, environmental education, childhood, race, and settler colonialism in early learning contexts. Her current research aims to generate insights on how Black ecologies can inform the design of climate justice education in Canadian cities.
KEYNOTE: Protecting Children, Protecting Nature: The Rise and Contestation of Environmental Education in China
Dr. Orna Naftali is Director of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her main research interests include the anthropology of childhood, schooling and education in modern and contemporary China, with a particular focus on issues of science and subjectivity, gender and sexuality, citizenship and legal consciousness, nationalism, militarization, and the nation-state. She is the author of two books: Children, Rights, and Modernity in China: Raising Self-Governing Citizens (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Children in China (Polity, 2016), and is currently working on a new book project on the militarization of children’s culture and education in the People’s Republic of China (1949-). Her articles have appeared in leading academic journals, including Journal of Youth Studies; Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research; Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth; The China Quarterly; The China Journal; Modern China; and the Journal of Contemporary China.
KEYNOTE: When Oil and Childhood Mix: Children's Literature and (or as) Petroculture
Dr. Lara Saguisag is Associate Professor and Georgiou Chair in Children’s Literature and Literacy at New York University. Her research, teaching, and community projects are informed by climate justice and energy justice movements. Her current research project investigates the ways children’s cultural forms naturalize and interrogate human relationships with fossil fuels. Through the Children’s Literature Association’s Climate Justice Interest Group, which Saguisag founded and currently convenes, she works with colleagues to promote climate justice-oriented research and teaching. With Marek Oziewicz, she co-founded Climate Lit, an open-access web resource for teaching climate change and climate justice through literature for young people. Saguisag’s other interests include comics and graphic novels, Philippine children’s literature, and transformative justice in education. Her monograph Incorrigibles and Innocents: Constructing Childhood and Citizenship in Progressive Era Comics (Rutgers UP, 2018) examines how the intertwined discourses of childhood, citizenship, and nationhood were expressed in and complicated by Progressive Era newspaper comics. It received several honors, including the Charles Hatfield Book Prize from the Comics Studies Society and an Eisner nomination for Best Academic/Scholarly Work. Saguisag is also the author of several children’s books, including Animal Games and Children of Two Seasons: Poems for Young People.
Māori author Witi Ihimaera celebrates 50 years since he became New Zealand’s first Māori novelist with Tangi, published, in 1973. Since then Ihimaera has become one of the world’s leading indigenous writers with four of his novels made into feature films. Among them is The Whale Rider, 1989, a huge hit in 2002, winning audience awards around the world. Acknowledged as a mentor of younger New Zealand writers, playwrights, editors and filmmakers, his titles include The Matriarch 1986, Bulibasha1994, The Uncle’s Story 2000 (in feature film development), Sleeps Standing 2017 (in feature film development), two memoirs and a non-fiction history of Maori mythology. He is a multi-award winner in his own country and, internationally, the holder of a Premio Ostana, 2010, and a Chevalier Des Arts et Lettres 2017. He lives in Auckland.