Material Sensibilities

making space for play across the life course

Playing with Toys II

Playing with Toys: the animated geographies of children’s material culture (II)

Funding: ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship

rutgersThe purpose of this postdoctoral fellowship was to disseminate research findings from my PhD to academic, practitioner and policy audiences. The doctoral research in question examined children’s everyday embodied relations and domestic practices with toys within the context of a commercialised space of childhood. Based on a series of domestic ethnographies, this research represented a a critical response to less grounded cultural commentaries on the demoralised character of contemporary childhoods. By engaging with/in play and attending to the specific materialities of toys – their sensuous, tactile nature – it developed deep understanding of how and why toys matter to children; the various object agencies of toys; and the ways children negotiate commercially oriented systems of meaning. Through the use of video footage layered with embodied field notes, the liveliness of the relations children share with toys was evoked. The fellowship included an overseas institutional visit to the Center for Children and Childhood Studies based at the Camden campus of Rutgers, US. 

In addition to the conference presentations and academic publications detailed on other pages of this site, outputs of the fellowship included:

Conference session and workshop organisation

Ludic Geographies, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual Conference (July 2012, Edinburgh, UK). Sponsored by the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG.

Co-convened with Fraser MacDonald (Edinburgh), these sessions brought together scholars of geography, psychology and architecture to consider the ludic (or play) as a fundamental part of human existence across the life course

Playability: exploring material connections (January 2012, Exeter, UK)

This one-day workshop brought together toy makers, digital games designers, play practitioners and academics around the theme of material connections in play.

Geopolitics games series (Exeter, UK)

This series of games-based events (including the boardgames Anti-Monopoly, Risk, War on Terror and Antartica) explored how geopolitics are expressed and enacted through play.

Outreach activities

Playing with Global Change: understanding places, power relations and politics through games, International Summer School (July 2011, Exeter, UK)

This summer school included students from China, Hong Kong, Ghana, USA, UAE.

Playing with Global Change: understanding places, power relations and politics through games, Discover Geography Day (July 2011, Exeter, UK)

This widening participation event was aimed at A-Level students from Exeter’s target schools.

Website design

Construction of Playing with Toys is still ongoing.


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