Childhood, Futurity, and Settler Time

Keywords: childhood, futurity, decolonization, temporality, settler colonialism, relationality


Settler childhood’s futurity is grounded in settler time: the colonial temporal structures of settlers that view time as strictly delineated, in opposition to Indigenous temporal heterogeneity—the coexistence of a multiplicity of temporalities. Mark Rifkin describes this temporal heterogeneity as having the power to unsettle settler frames of reference. In response to Adam Gaudry’s call for settlers to engage in insurgent research by engaging with Indigenous research and worldviews while focusing on settler problems, turning to the tension of settler time with Indigenous temporal sovereignty alongside Barbara Adam’s conception of temporal care relations offers a way to unsettle settler childhoods. Bringing together two ways of rethinking temporality through Dwayne Donald’s conception of ethical relationality enables a critique of colonialism without seeking to take up Indigenous childhoods to fill the broken spaces in settlers’ own. This effort reflects Alexis Shotwell’s warning to attendees of the Common Worlds colloquium Responding to Ecological Challenges with/in Contemporary Childhoods: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Climate Pedagogies to be attentive to epistemic extractivism and the problem of settlers seeking to resolve the damage of colonialism through seeking to behave as if they are Indigenous. Instead, I propose a way forward in which children are reentangled in both common worlds and common fates.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Adam, B. (1996). Beyond the present: Nature, technology, and the democratic ideal. Time and Society, 5(3), 319–338.

Adam, B., & Groves, C. (2007). Future matters: Action, knowledge, ethics. Brill.

Ahmed, S. (2004). Declarations of whiteness: The non-performativity of antiracism. Borderlands, 3(2).

Baldwin, A. (2012). Whiteness and futurity: Towards a research agenda. Progress in Human Geography, 36(2), 172–187.

Bartos, A. E. (2012). Children caring for their worlds: The politics of care and childhood. Political Geography, 31, 157–166.

Buhre, F., & Bjork, C. (2021). Braiding time: Sami temporalities for Indigenous justice. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 51(3), 227–236.

Burman, E. (2008). Developments: Child, image, nation. Routledge.

Burman, E., & Stacey, J. (2010). The child and childhood in feminist theory. Feminist Theory, 11(3), 227–240.

Castañeda, C. (2001). The child as feminist figuration: Toward a politics of privilege. Feminist Theory, 2(1), 29–53.

Castañeda, C. (2002). Figurations: Child, bodies, world. Duke University Press.

Donald, D. (2012). Forts, curriculum, and ethical relationality. In N. Ng-A-Fook & J. Rottmann (Eds.), Reconsidering Canadian curriculum studies (pp. 39–46). Palgrave Macmillan.

Donald, D. (2016). From what does ethical relationality flow? An “Indian” act in three artifacts. Counterpoints, 478, 10–16.

Gaudry, A. (2015). Researching the resurgence: Insurgent research and community-engaged methodologies in twenty-first century academic inquiry. In S. Strega & L. Brown (Eds.), Research as resistance: Critical, Indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches (2nd ed.; pp. 243–265). Canadian Scholars Press.

Gurevitz, R. (2000). Affective approaches to environmental education: Going beyond the imagined worlds of childhood? Ethics, Place, and Environment, 3(3), 253–268.

Held, V. (2006). The ethics of care: Personal, political, and global. Oxford University Press.

Hunt, S. (2014). Ontologies of Indigeneity: The politics of embodying a concept. Cultural Geographies, 21(1), 27–32.

Jenks, C. C. (2015). Childhood. Routledge.

Kheel, M. (2008). Nature ethics: An ecofeminist perspective. Rowman and Littlefield.

Kidman, J., MacDonald, L., Funaki, H., Ormond, A., Southon, P., & Tomlins-Jahnkne, H. (2021). “Native time” in the white city: Indigenous youth temporalities in settler-colonial space. Children’s Geographies, 19(1), 24–36.

Kraftl, P. (2009). Utopia, childhood, and intention. Journal for Cultural Research, 13(1), 69–88.

Mitchell, K. (1997). Different diasporas and the hype of hybridity. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 15(5), 533–553.

Muñoz, J. E. (2019). Cruising utopia: The there and then of queer futurity (10th anniversary ed.). NYU Press. (Original work published 2009)

Nolte-Odhiambo, C. (2016). Disidentifying with futurity: The unbecoming child and its discontents. In M. Bohlmann (Ed.), An inquiry into childhood belongings (pp. 143–158). Lexington Books.

Qvortrup, J. (2009). Are children human beings or human becomings? A critical assessment of outcome thinking. Rivista Internazionale Di Scienze Sociali, 117(3/4), 631–653.

Rifkin, M. (2017). Beyond settler time: Temporal sovereignty and Indigenous self-determination. Duke University Press.

Rosenbury, L. A. (2015) A feminist perspective on children and law: From objectification to relational subjectivities. In T. Gal & B. Duramy (Eds.), International perspectives and empirical findings on child participation: From social exclusion to child-inclusive policies. Oxford University Press.

Sevenhuijsen, S. (1998). Citizenship and ethics of care. Routledge.

Shotwell, A. (2016). Against purity: Living ethically in compromised times. University of Minnesota Press.

Shotwell, A. (2020). Education without extractivism: Settler practices for respecting Indigenous sovereignties in entangled worlds. Keynote talk presented at Responding to Ecological Challenges with/in Contemporary Childhoods: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Climate Pedagogies, London, ON, January 31.

Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies (2nd ed.). Zed Books.

Stephens, S. (1994). Children and environment: Local worlds and global connections. Childhood, 2, 1–21.

Stirling, B. (2020). Childhood, ecological feminism, and the environmental justice frame. Études Canadiennes/Canadian Studies, 88, 221–238.

Sze, J., & London, J. K. (2008). Environmental justice at the crossroads. Sociology Compass, 2(4), 1331–1354.

Tatlow-Golden, M., & Montgomery, H. (2021). Childhood studies and child psychology: Disciplines in dialogue? Children & Society, 35(1), 3–17.

Taylor, A. (2011). Reconceptualizing the “nature” of childhood. Childhood, 18(4), 420–433.

Taylor, A. (2019). Countering the conceits of the Anthropos: Scaling down and researching with minor players. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 1–19.

Taylor, A., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2019). The common worlds of children and animals: Relational ethics for entangled lives. Routledge.

Todd, Z. (2016). An Indigenous feminist’s take on the ontological turn: “Ontology” is just another word for colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology, 29(1), 4–22.

Tronto, J. (2013). Caring democracy: Markets, equality, and justice. NYU Press.

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton University Press.

Tuck, E., & Gaztambide-Fernández, R. A. (2013). Curriculum, replacement, and settler futurity. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 29(1), 72–89.

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society, 1(1), 1–40.

Voinot-Baron, W. (2020). A bitter taste of fish: The temporality of salmon, settler colonialism, and the work of well-being in a Yupiaq fishing village. Ecology & Society, 25(2), 417–424.

Wall, J. (2008). Human rights in light of childhood. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 16, 523–543.

Watts, V. (2013). Indigenous place-thought and agency amongst humans and non humans (First Woman and Sky Woman go on a European world tour!). Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 2(1), Article 1.

Wildcat, M. (2018). Wahkohtowin in action. Constitutional Forum, 27(1), 13–24.

How to Cite
Stirling, B. (2022). Childhood, Futurity, and Settler Time. Journal of Childhood Studies, 34-46.
Articles from Research