Chair: Eleftherios Klerides, University of Cyprus, Cyprus


In modern times, children and youth identities and subjectivities were habitually played out, shaped and channelled within and through the boundaries of formal education. Ministries and policies, classrooms and teachers, curricula and textbooks, as well as teaching aids and commemorative rituals, all were invented to play a key role in the making of individual and collective identity and the subject. In all these institutions and practices of the ‘grammar’ of formal education, subject positions tended to be defined along masculine, white, heterosexual and middle-class lines, to the detriment of those contesting these norms and identified as women and LGBT+, of black and minority ethnic groups, of working-classes, as well as of colonialised groups, those with disability and migrant communities.

Today, formal education is losing its privileged position as key location of ‘identity-work’, existing alongside non-formal and informal sites and techniques of learning and socialisation. Advancements in technology and the rise of social media, changes in capitalist accumulation and the workplace, shifts in international politics and the emergence of new governing forms, new lifestyles, and new patterns of entertainment and leisure are some of the phenomena at play here, opening up new possibilities for identity-making beyond formal education. Taken together, such forces suggest a new era of both personal and collective uncertainty as well as opportunity. What non-formal and informal spaces and technologies of identity-work are emerging today? How are they employed and by whom? What new imaginings of the subject are articulated and enacted? How are these imaginings entangled negotiated alongside those produced in formal practices and via formal strategies of education?

The Working Group (WG) opens up historical and contemporary themes related to identities beyond formal education. Papers might include the following:

  • The new spatial architecture of/for identity-making: here, papers might explore the ways that changes in technology, capitalism and geopolitics, as well as in lifestyle and leisure redefine subjectivities and the tools and sites of their making.
  • The implications of new notions of the ‘self’ in/for society: papers might examine how formal, informal and non-formal, national/local and transnational imaginings of the subject are intersecting and what this means for the nature of the notion of identity itself.
  • Actors and concepts: here, papers might consider subjects and subject positions that are creating and contesting the new times of fluidity and opportunity, as well as how we might theorize them.

WG participants might frame their analyses by region, country and/or community and could engage with a range of intellectual perspectives and interpretative positions. It would be especially pertinent if some analyses focus on how categories such as gender, class, ability, occupation, race, caste, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation intersect to contribute to the enactment of a growing sense of threat and resistance on the one hand, and potential and renewal on the other.