2023 RECE Conference

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester U.K

Manchester Metropolitan University at night

29th Annual RECE Conference

Pathways: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We Want to Go

Manchester Metropolitan University •Manchester U.K • September 7-10, 2023

2023 Call for Proposals

We invite proposals from early childhood researchers, scholars, educators, pedagogues, teacher-educators, artists, and activists for the 29th Annual Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) Conference, to be held in person and online at Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester England.

The conference theme “Pathways: Where we’ve been, where we are, where we want to go” reflects our recognition of the vital role of place in learning, acting, being, and becoming. Considering place as both the physical landscape within which we are engaging and as the historical and contemporary social, economic and political forces that shape our landscapes and our places within a landscape, meeting in the place of Manchester, England has specific resonances and entanglements.

Place Matters

Manchester’s location between the Pennine Hills and the Mersey Ports is the focal point of ancient pathways used by people across the history of the land. Human occupation of Manchester dates back until at least the Bronze age. It has been home to Celtic tribes and is the site of a first-century AD fort from which Roman occupiers sought to control mineral and trade interests on ancient waterways and newly created roads. In the post-Roman era, the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk–lined with watermills and fisheries– became the new center of Manchester. Through the subsequent invasions of the Saxons and Normans, Manchester developed as a market town for livestock and wool arriving along the old drovers’ roads over the Pennine Hills and Cheshire Plains onto the waterways via Liverpool to the world beyond. This geography put Manchester at the heart of the industrial revolution, its developing textile processing technology and voracious demand for cotton and labor contributing to the acceleration of global colonialism, exploitative trade practices, transatlantic chattel slavery, worker exploitation, a rise in child labor, and the simultaneous growth of wealth and poverty. 

These injustices in turn gave birth to great resistance movements in Manchester, including the rise of the Manchester radical abolitionist movement and fair-trade cooperatives. Manchester is the site of the 1819 Peterloo massacre, where an armed cavalry attacked citizens fighting for voting reform, inspiring many more to join the cause. The first Trades Union Congress was held in Manchester in 1868. Friedrich Engels, who spent much of his life in Manchester, made it central to his text, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 and wrote parts of the Communist Manifesto along with Karl Marx, a frequent visitor to Manchester, at Manchester’s Chetham Library. The British women’s suffrage movement was born in Manchester under the leadership of Mancunians Emmaline Pankhurst and Lydia Becker, fighting under the motto “Deeds not words.” More recently, huge numbers of protesters rallied in 1988 in Manchester to fight the blatant homophobia of Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 policy. Manchester was the site of vibrant queer spaces that continue to function today as places to push boundaries and contest identities. Contemporary activists in Manchester are engaged in fighting policing legislation that severely limits rights to protest and in anti-racist activism. Direct action environmental activism has been powerful in Manchester, including fights against the building of high-speed roads, train lines, and a new runway at Manchester Airport, all projects that threaten ancient woodlands. Today, Manchester is a racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse international city, home to 2.5 million people, including speakers of more than 200 languages.  

Manchester, in other words, sits at crossroads that radiate along global pathways, traveling across centuries and into the present and future. The contradictions and conflicts that frame Manchester’s history are no less our own struggles. Heather McGhee, in The Sum of Us, writes: “Wealth is where history shows up in your wallet, where your financial freedom is determined by compounding interest on decisions made long before you were born” (2021, p. 227). There are few RECE participants whose lives and family histories and presents have not been touched in some way by events that have been shaped in Manchester and the wider UK. Recognition of where we have been, where we are, and where we hope to be, involves our grappling with these histories and their contradictions to attend to where we are stuck in ruts, as well as our shaping efforts to harness the dynamism and creativity of the past and present on our path to finding better futures. 

The Pathways Theme

The 2023 conference theme recognizes the diverse pathways that have shaped global economies and histories and also the literal and metaphoric pathways that challenge and enliven our lives. Consistent with the history of RECE, we think about the diverse pathways of children’s lives, families, and communities, the pathways children follow and create, and the many convergent and divergent paths taken in our historical and current understandings of the concept of childhood.

We think of traditions of walking and regions around the world crossed by walking paths and animal paths. We think of the mycelial networks that make life on earth as we know it possible. We consider the paths of ocean and wind that sustain and – now disrupted – change the earth’s climate. We think about the history and present of treks and journeys that serve as rites of passage, as healing practices individually or communally, or conversely, as forced marches or flights that happen in the context of hunger, water shortages, climate disasters, war, and genocide. We acknowledge the denial of nomadism and forced settlement. We consider the passages of trails and trains that have long connected communities and that contributed to the driving of many Indigenous peoples from their lands. 

We think about the path less traveled, of lines of wandering, lines of flight, flights of fancy and creativity that are required to move us from overused, unsustainable, inequitable pathways of moving, thinking, and doing toward ones that are more diverse and sustainable. We imagine Indigenous pathways, working our way through the dense bush to come out to the clearing and then following ancient pathways which have grown over, forcing us to do a bit of digging around and looking for signs, ahead and overhead, within and across lands and seas. 

For the 29th conference, we seek to engage the idea of pathways as a provocation to consider reflective and refractive interconnections among events, places, humans, and more-than-humans. We invite work that explores the histories, economies, traditions, and policies that create and challenge, contain and revolutionize the children and adults with whom we work and the conditions of our work. We also invite reflections on the contradictions that frame our work, the conditions of limitation that give rise to direct action, protest, and reform. We look to explorations of children’s pathways. We invite participants to reflect on the messy, contested, destructive, wonderful, and empowering stories of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go. 

Throughout its history, those presenting at RECE conferences have walked a shared path in at least one sense: we welcome all whose work challenges traditional assumptions about children, childhood, and dominant practices of early education and care. We travel many routes to get there. As always, the program committee welcomes papers and workshops that highlight the intersections of theory, collective activism, and reconceptualizing practices in work with children, families, and communities. RECE is a unique space to safely share, receive feedback on, and extend work that falls outside of other academic and neoliberal spaces.

Proposal Submission

The deadline for submissions is 15 January, 2023. Proposals can only be submitted to the online portal through


beginning December 1, 2022.  Note: To facilitate the timely announcement of the conference program, there will be no deadline extension. Proposals will be reviewed by our international program committee and volunteer reviewers.

To promote broad participation in the conference, your name must appear on one submission only.

Types of Sessions

The 2023 RECE conference will have three types of sessions. All sessions can be presented in-person or on-line:

1. Themed panel proposals combine several papers by a self-organized group of presenters under a common theme. The panel papers relate to each other and encourage connection across individual presentations. We recommend that 3 papers be part of panel proposals. Because they afford dialogue among the individual papers in a session, panel proposals are especially welcome. A themed panel can be presented in multiple ways. For example, themed panel paper presentations can be made available on-line through the RECE website two weeks prior to the conference. The conference session can then be an opportunity for presenters and audience members to interactively discuss the papers. Other innovative ways to deliver themed panels are welcome. Please contact the Program Chairs if you have any questions or other suggestions. 

2. Individual papers. Individual papers will be programmed within sessions where authors present abbreviated versions of their papers for 20 minutes, followed by audience discussion. Each session will be scheduled for a 90-minute time slot, usually combining three individual papers. In consideration of RECE’s purpose as a community of scholarship, individuals must be attentive to the time allocation for presenting their work so that all members of a session have time to share their work. In the case of multiple-authored papers, more than one person may present, but multiple presenters must divide among the presenters the total time available to them. They should ensure that including more than one speaker does not detract from the overall presentation of the work or infringe on the time allotments for other presentations.

3.  Alternative session proposals. This could include workshops, performances, exhibits, or other modes of presentation. Please describe the alternative format you have in mind. Provide enough detail for us to get a good understanding of what it would take to support this program.

Proposals must be no more than three single-spaced pages in length. All proposals must be submitted as a Word document.

Please include the following in your proposal:

  1. Names, affiliations, addresses, and e‐mail addresses of all presenters
  2. Brief title, capturing the primary focus, concern, or topic of the session
  3. A one-line summary of the session
  4. 3-5 keywords
  5. Indication of session type (themed panel, individual paper or special focus)
  6. Indication of whether the session (themed panel, individual paper or special focus) will be delivered in person or on-line. If on-line indicate your time zone.
  7. Indication of provisions for involving audience participation, and format (PowerPoint, etc.)
  8. Indicate if you want this proposal to be part of the Indigenous Caucus strand (which will be identifiably ‘Indigenous’ in the RECE conference proceedings with a silver fern)
  9. Abstract for inclusion in the conference program (100 word maximum)
  10. Brief description of session including the theoretical grounding of the session/paper, and its relevance to the theme and interests of the conference.  
  •  For panel sessions: Brief description (500 words max) of overall session and individual papers.
  • For individual paper submission: Brief description (500 words max) of paper.


The description should include, and will be evaluated based on the following three criteria:

  • Significance of the topic/concern within RECE’s foci on research, theory, practice, policy, advocacy and/or activism
  • Critical perspective(s) or theoretical framework
  • Methods, techniques, or modes of inquiry, if applicable

You will be notified of the outcome of your proposal for presentations no later than April 15, 2023.

Indication of whether “fast-track” reviewing is needed: Experience from prior conferences shows that participants from some countries may experience prolonged time getting visas to attend the conference in-person. To facilitate in-person attendance where possible, we will review proposals with anticipated visa difficulties as fast as possible. Please indicate if you think this is needed.

Supporting Multiple Languages

For RECE 2023, should you choose to do so, section nine (the 100-word abstract) can be written in both the presenter’s primary language and English. Accepted presenters will have both versions of their 100-word abstracts appear in the final online program.

  Due to the logistics of managing proposal reviews and program production, all other parts of the proposal must be written in English.

Important Information

If you have any questions about this call for proposals or  the theme of the RECE conference, please contact the Program Chairs Mere Skerrett at mere.skerrett@vuw.ac.nz or Gail Boldt at gboldt@psu.edu

If you have any questions about visa related to invitation letters for presenters and attendees at the RECE conference, please contact Martin Needham at m.needham@mmu.ac.uk

2023 Call for Proposals

Download the full Call for Proposals:

Program Committee

Mere Skerrett (Co-Chair)
Gail Boldt Co-Chair)

Host Committee

Martin Needham (Chair)