Ludic Geopolitics: children's play, war toys and re-enchantment with the British military

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Militarism/securitisation is increasingly imprinting on everyday geographies well beyond areas of actual armed conflict. Through an innovative focus on children's war play, this project addresses the need to understand mundane aspects of security alongside large-scale actions on the national and global stage. The taken-for-granted nature of children's play means it is typically excluded from important discussions of security, and thus its role in making military technologies and logics banal-like goes unchallenged. Working in partnership with the Museum of Childhood (MOC) - a branch of the internationally-renowned V&A Museum specialising in the delivery of family activities/educational outreach programmes - this project analyses how military technologies and logics are made banal-like through children's play with action figures, and thus the role of toys in the making of the citizen.

Since the 1990s, increasing attention has been paid to how geographies of global politics are represented through popular culture, such as films, radio and magazines. Despite the enduring war play debate, children and toys have typically been excluded from these discussions. A grounded cultural commentary on war play and how children develop understanding of geopolitical climates is urgently needed.

Using the contemporary HM Armed Forces (HMAF) action figure range (licensed by the Ministry of Defence and one of the strongest new brands in the toy industry) as a central case study, this research analyses the design and interpretation of the British military action figure. Based on an innovative methodology developed as part of previous ESRC awards, this project uses interlinking strands of trade, museum and home based ethnographic research to ask:
1. How has the history of the British action figure been shaped by wider geopolitical climates?
2. What geopolitical narratives have shaped, and are shaped by HMAF toys?
4. How do children make sense of contemporary geopolitics through play with HMAF toys?
5. How can toys be used as an educational tool for understanding historical/contemporary geopolitical climates?

Encouraging dialogue between researchers in the social sciences, this project expands the concept of the 'military industrial media entertainment complex' to consider how play and toys shape/are shaped by imaginations and practices of warfare. This research has benefits for a wide range of audiences:
*Academics studying security/geopolitics/international relations/childhood
*Project partner and similar institutions interested in public understanding of military activities/war play
*Educators charged with developing notions of citizenship and understanding of geopolitical climates
*Security think tanks interested in public understanding of war and conflict
*Military outreach personnel interested in the development of political subjectivity and its role in public support
*Parents/wider public interested in the ongoing war play debate

To maximise the impact of this project, the following activities are planned:
*Production of academic papers for journals/conferences and a co-authored monograph
*Evaluative/methodological reports for project partner and similar institutions
*Educational resources for War Games exhibition hosted at the MOC and travelling nationwide
*Inclusion of war play in existing ESRC website about children's use of toys
*2 research-based events for the beneficiaries named above, with public lecture element
*Media press releases, regularly updated academic/project partner blogs and Twitter feeds to generate interest/circulate findings

Thus, this award will foster interdisciplinary working between researchers in human geography, childhood studies and geopolitics/international relations/security studies; capacity building in child-centred creative methodologies; facilitate knowledge exchange between academics and the above named beneficiaries; and enhance education through research-led teaching.

Planned Impact

Whilst children's war play is a topic of perennial interest, discussion and debate by educators, parents and the media has varied in intensity in relation to localised events of violence, specific periods of military engagement and publication of high profile parenting texts. Despite this attention, grounded cultural commentaries are lacking as studies of war play have focused on short-term effects and examined play in isolation from wider geopolitical climates and cultures. Given this context, there are a myriad of non-academic beneficiaries and users of this research:

Project Partner: The MOC has been enthusiastic about this research and its potential contribution, as well as contributing to the framing of research questions. The planned 2013 War Games exhibition marks a move towards the MOC's engagement with more controversial topics. They will be able to use outputs at all stages of the research to inform exhibition resources and museum-practice. Two longer-term impacts are the value of our partnership in enhancing the research capacity of the MOC, and the development of creative methodologies for family-centred audience research. By extending the MOC's profile among academic communities and advancing its status as a platform for reflection on contemporary issues, this collaboration will contribute to the MOC's strategic objectives concerning access, audiences, and international renown (V&A 2011).

Public/third sector curatorial organisations: Other curatorial institutions will benefit from best practice in child/family-centred audience research and understanding of social practices of meaning-making. Military-focused museums will benefit from insights into, and ways of intervening in public understanding of conflict and security. This is marked by the inclusion of Portsmouth's Fort Nelson on the Project Advisory Board.

Security think tanks: Public understanding of conflict and security, and the development of political subjectivity are considered critical for defence policy. The Royal United Services Institute's (RUSI) War and Culture Programme, which promotes appreciation of how cultural interpretations of conflict influence society's construction of war and its consequences, is indicative. This research expands RUSI's current focus on the arts by considering an unduly neglected, yet important popular culture form, toys.

Ministry of Defence: The recent 'Youth Engagement Review' (MOD 2011) details the role of service outreach programmes in meeting the statutory responsibility for Service Children and wider personal and social development of young people. In-depth understanding of the development of political subjectivity and understanding of geopolitical climates will contribute to this critical, yet currently low profile area of defence policy.

Parents and the wider public: Given its engagement with wider historical/geopolitical contexts, this research offers a more grounded cultural commentary on the demoralising nature of children's war play. It will enhance understanding of how children's play is embedded in/reproduces wider geopolitical imaginaries and logics, and the role it plays in the making of the citizen.

Educators: Educators have been at the forefront of the war play debate, with war toys being banned in many school environments (Holland 2000). With continued Western engagement in the Middle East and the 'Arab Spring', war induced suffering shows little sign of abating. Thus, it is important to help children develop an understanding of geopolitical climates. Working with a learning consultant to create KS2 learning resources, this project will develop ways of using play and toys as tools for understanding geopolitical issues. Local schools have been enthusiastic about involvement in the research.

As the Pathways to Impact statement makes clear, representatives of these types of organisations have been involved in the design of this project and will be included on the Project Advisory Board.

Publications

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Woodyer T (2018) The wonderful thing about Tiggers in Children's Geographies

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Woodyer T (2020) Domesticating Geopolitics: an introduction in Geopolitics

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Woodyer T (2014) War Games

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Woodyer T (2020) Domesticating Geopolitics

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Woodyer T (2014) Play, Toys, War and Conflict

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Carter S (2013) War Games and the Cold War

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Tara Woodyer (Author) (2013) Ludic Geopolitics

 
Description Preliminary findings:
Despite the many ways that the lives of children are affected by contemporary conflicts, their experiences of war and thinking on war is marginalised in both popular discourse and academic research on cultures of war and militarism.

This study adopted a methodologically innovative approach that worked across historical and contemporary sites of trade, exhibition, education and family life. Such a multi-sited approach is necessary to more fully understand the role and significance of popular culture on the formation of childhood political subjectivity; furthermore it allows the complexity and agency of the multiple actors involved to be recognised. By undertaking extensive research on children's war play practices in domestic settings, this study provides new empirical knowledge on the relation between childhood, wider cultures of war, and children's everyday practices. In contrast to work on the politics of popular culture that tends towards over-determining the outcomes of exposure to or engagement with, various forms of culture, this research shows that each site of production/consumption has its own set of politics and negotiation; these are highlighted below.

(i) The production of a toy-object such as Action Man or the HM Armed Forces action figure is the outcome of a complex set of relations between individual designers, corporate strategies of toy manufacturers, wider geopolitical climates, and the political-economies of the toy trade. This makes claims concerning the intended ideological intent of particular products hard to sustain.

(ii) The placing of toy-objects into a museum display clearly positions them differently than in their normal 'domestic' settings, such that they are not so obviously used as play objects. The more reflective practices that museum spaces encourage allow for different kinds of insights into the relationship between war, toys, play, and violence. These insights both problematize assumed gendered and violent connotations of war toys and war play, and reveal that such engagements with war toys - both playful and reflective - are shaped by cross-generational relations and practices.

(iii) The home, whilst a crucial setting for understanding the actual ways in which war toys are played with, has been an overlooked site of analysis in research to date. This study shows that domestic spaces of play are key sites for the development of childhood political subjectivities through the negotiation of a complex set of relations between the individual and the wider world. More specifically, it reveals that:
• Despite concerns around the ideological role of war play, play itself is an embodied, open-ended activity that cannot be over-determined or explained prior to observation of its practice.
• War play, as a form of childhood geopolitical practice, shows the ways in which children articulate their understandings of the geopolitical world through play.
• Furthermore, observing war play shows how children begin to re-work and re-imagine these geopolitical imaginaries. Children do not simply reflect prevailing geopolitical cultures in their play, they play an active role in constituting these very same cultures, and display capacity for political and ethical agency through their development and negotiation of different characterisations.

Overall, this research shows that considerations of war play should not be restricted to concerns with aggression and violence; rather, we need to recognise war play does not take place within a social vacuum. War play is informed and shaped by (amongst other things) toys, play settings, wider geopolitical climates, other intertextual cultural references, and existing historical knowledge (in relation to existing historical knowledge, links between topics and issues learnt at school and the content of domestic war play emerges as a potentially important new research question). War play is thus an important means for children to make sense of the contemporary world. Furthermore, this study clearly shows that there is potential for using play as a vehicle for reflecting on and questioning prevailing geopolitical logics and cultures of militarism. The study advances claims for a significant reformulation of popular geopolitics as an encounter between texts, objects, bodies and practices, critiquing conceptualisations of causality, scale and agency in existing geopolitical and IR work.
Exploitation Route We continue to develop both academic and non-academic pathways to impact.

For multi-disciplinary academic audiences this includes editing a journal special issue; publication of book chapters in key reference texts; a range of journal articles (published/under revision/in preparation); and a series of presentations at international conferences, workshops and seminars, many by invitation.

We have been/are engaged in a range of different activities with non-academic audiences:

• In collaboration with the Museum of Childhood (MOC), we developed KS3 learning resources, for use both in conjunction with their War Games exhibition and as standalone activities. We also participated in workshops, led by the MOC, for School Teachers planning to visit the touring exhibition.

• Created additional resources for the MOC War Games exhibition; we delivered public talks, workshops, tours and online essays for the exhibition.

• Conducted visitor research both at the MOC and museums across the UK, as the exhibition toured, with summary reports produced for each venue.

• Engaged with broader publics through a project blog, published articles written for a general audience, and media events (TV, radio and press interviews, at international/national/regional levels).

We are extending our impact work in four main areas: (i) launch of an interactive website (produced with Starboard Media) addressing popular debates around play for use by children, parents and educators; (ii) establishing a network for museum and curatorial staff around 'curating war'; (iii) establishing links with think-tanks (e.g. RUSI) and (iv) further work with educators to produce standalone resources for KS2.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy,Other

URL http://www.ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com
 
Description SCIENTIFIC IMPACTS (relevant to academic community) To date, two chapters have been published in key reference works, with a further two in press; three journal articles have been published, with a further article under revision, and four in preparation for submission in the next 12 months. A special issue of Geopolitics is currently in progress, with a paper by Woodyer et al using empirical and theoretical work from the project. Two briefing papers have been circulated to international, multidisciplinary audiences. These discuss the methodology used within the project. A series of working papers have published on the project blog. Highlights: • Our chapter in the major 12-volume reference work Geographies of Children and Young People has been downloaded by 155 users since publication in early 2016. • Reviews, state that the collection, Children, Young People and Critical Geopolitics, to which we contributed, is "a must-have" for those considering how everyday life is imbricated in geopolitics (Dittmer, UCL, UK) and "an outstanding volume that advances both critical geopolitics and children's geographies" (Hyndman, York University, Canada). • Our article in Geopolitics has been viewed by 1,211 readers since publication in late 2018 To date, key findings have been disseminated through talks at over 15 international and national conferences, addressing cross-disciplinary audiences in the UK, Ireland, Continental Europe and USA. A further three talks have been given at UK-based seminar events spanning geography and Psychology, with an additional five seminar events to academic audiences spanning Geography, Education and Sociology yet to take place. Members of the team were visiting scholars at Tampere University, Finland. The project team convened sessions on Ludic Geopolitics and Domesticating Geopolitics at the US and UK major annual international geographical conferences respectively. Highlights: • We have presented our key findings to serving US military personnel • A leading US-based figure in the field of geopolitics stated, "This is a fascinating project, and as someone who tends toward a sweeping treatment of militarism I'm grateful for her [Woodyer's] nuanced discussion....the paper was wonderfully provocative". • An international expert stated that the project's methodology was "potentially ground-breaking" • We were invited to produce a special issue on Domesticating Geopolitics for the peer-reviewed journal Geopolitics The dissemination activities outlined above have generated broad scientific interest leading to a variety of invitations, including: • Invited talk at panel on Ethics and War at Manchester Centre for Political Theory's annual conference, UK • Invited discussant at symposium on Play, Toys, War and Conflict organised by University of Greenwich's Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, UK • Invited session chair at interdisciplinary Sensing War conference, UK • Invited talk at an international cross-disciplinary workshop on Relational Approaches to Agency and Childhood, Hildesheim, Germany • Invitation to cross-disciplinary workshop on The Future of Toys, Winchester School of Art, UK • Invitation to AHRC concept-generation workshop on Unloved Collections, organised by the Science Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life • Invited talk at Enthusiasm Futures workshop, University of Reading, UK • Invitation to act as visiting scholar at Borys Grynchenko Kyiv Univeristy, Ukraine • Invitation to write expert commentary on toys and violence for The Conversation • Invitation to contribute to a book series on Spaces of Childhood and Youth • Invitation to contribute to a special issue of the e-journal, Heroes • Invitation to contribute to panels on Childhood and War in Canada and Brazil • Invitation to deliver Keynote presentation in New Zealand • Invitation to contribute to the first edited collection on researching childhood in International Relations ECONOMIC AND SOCIETAL IMPACTS (relevant to broader society) The power of play in making sense of, and addressing contemporary 21st challenges has been recognised in an invitation to join NERC public engagement project advisory panel. Working in collaboration with our project partner, the V&A Museum of Childhood (MoC), we have been involved in the following impact activities: Learning resources We developed a KS3 learning resource for use both in conjunction with the 'MoC's 'War Games' exhibition and as a standalone activity, and a child-friendly Exhibition Trail to help children engage with the exhibits. We also participated in CPD events for school teachers linked to the 'War Games' exhibition. Beyond our work with the MoC, our research was featured in a volume on Armed Forces of the Issues Today learning resource series published by Independence Educational Publishers. We developed a KS2 learning resource addressing geopolitics, war and conflict with an education consultant, which draws on our findings around the use of play to make sense of geopolitics, war and conflict. This is now ready to be trialed in primary schools. Highlights: • To date, the online version of the KS3 learning resource has had 788 unique users • The Issues Today learning resource was distributed to ~1000 subscribers • Schools in London, West Sussex and Wiltshire have committed to trialing our play-based KS2 learning resource Engaging with museum visitors We contributed to a range of resources designed to help visitors to the MoC's 'travelling War Games' exhibition make sense of the wider geopolitical and security issues involved. These included public talks at the host sites in Carlisle & Plymouth, workshops and tours at the host sites in Southampton and Coventry, and essays for the exhibition website. The project undertook evaluative visitor research both at the MoC and at six museums across the UK, as the exhibition toured. Analysis of this research has been provided in summary form to each of the participating venues. Beyond the MoC exhibition, we contributed to a practitioner workshop on visitor engagement, organised by the Science Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life, and the research was featured in a Back to School edition of the Canadian-based Museum Education Monitor. Highlights: • Together, the two online essays have received 1180 unique visitors Public understanding of war play The project team have been involved in engagement with the public through the curation of a project blog (with links to published outputs, expert commentary on geopolitical stories and events, and discussion of work in progress), a publication for the popular history magazine 'History Today', an article in the toy trade magazine 'Toy News', and an online article for 'The Conversation'. The project team have also been involved in a number of media events, including a BBC World News interview, interviews on regional radio in England and Ireland (including programmes with a follow-up phone-in), radio interviews for the British Forces Broadcasting service, and an interview for a piece on war play for The Guardian. Following a press release, our research has been featured in a range of broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. The project team have also been involved in public workshops involving Action Man collectors and doll hacktivism. Highlights: • To date, the online version of the History Today article has received has received 2,168 views • To date, the article on The Conversation has received 5,208 readers, 83 shares on Twitter and 175 shares on Facebook • An article on the Mail Online prompted 103 comments from readers • An article in The Telegraph received 118 posts on Facebook and 120 shares via other media • More than 180 comments were posted in response to an article in the Guardian magazine based on an interview about the research. These comments evidenced debate amongst the audience, with individuals reflecting on personal experience (as children and/or parents) and questioning different perspectives • The project blog, Ludic Geopolitics, has received 612 unique visitors and has been viewed by people in 106 different countries, spanning Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia. ANTICIPATED/POTENTIAL FUTURE IMPACTS We are looking to extend our impact work in four main areas: (i) the launch of an interactive website addressing popular debates around play for use by children, parents and educators. We have developed a skeleton structure in collaboration with Starboard Media, and are in the process of populating this with content, including audio-visual material created by children (ii) establishing a network for museum and curatorial staff around 'curating war'
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description GCYFRG workshop
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Reported increase in confidence in bid writing activities
 
Description Manifesto for Play policy roadshow; Play England submission to the Labour Party Consultation on Building Statutory Youth Services
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description SCGRG mentoring
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Providing one-to-one mentoring of Early Career geography academics as part of Royal Geographical Society's Social and Cultural Research Group's mentoring scheme.
 
Description Departmental Funds
Amount £638 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 07/2015
 
Description Departmental funds
Amount £735 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description Departmental funds
Amount £585 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 05/2017
 
Description Departmental funds
Amount £2,340 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 10/2017
 
Description Faculty funds
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description Guest passes for Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference
Amount £570 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Geographical Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2015 
End 09/2015
 
Description ISA Travel Award
Amount $480 (USD)
Organisation International Studies Association (ISA) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2019
 
Description Publication Funds
Amount £200 (GBP)
Organisation History Today 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2014 
End 05/2016
 
Description Research and Innovation Services Fund
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Portsmouth 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 07/2015
 
Title Visitor Postcards 
Description A sizeable collection of visitor postcards from the Museum of Childhood curated War Games exhibition as it travelled nationwide. These capture children and adults' reflective responses to war play and games. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Evidence and understanding of children's ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy in matters relating to war play. 
 
Description ESRC SCDTP studentship 
Organisation University of Brighton
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing expertise on play to PhD supervisory team
Collaborator Contribution Providing research expertise to PhD supervisory team
Impact TBC
Start Year 2018
 
Description Impact Acceleration Award bid for funds 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department Department of Geography
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative funding bid for further funds to measure impact of collaborative initiatives
Collaborator Contribution Drafted, costed and submitted funding proposal to University of Exeter scheme for ESRC Impact Funds
Impact Funding application
Start Year 2015
 
Description Impact Acceleration Award bid for funds 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative funding bid for further funds to measure impact of collaborative initiatives
Collaborator Contribution Drafted, costed and submitted funding proposal to University of Exeter scheme for ESRC Impact Funds
Impact Funding application
Start Year 2015
 
Description Impact Acceleration Award bid for funds 
Organisation Victoria and Albert Museum
Department V&A Museum of Childhood
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative funding bid for further funds to measure impact of collaborative initiatives
Collaborator Contribution Drafted, costed and submitted funding proposal to University of Exeter scheme for ESRC Impact Funds
Impact Funding application
Start Year 2015
 
Description KS3 learning resources 
Organisation Victoria and Albert Museum
Department V&A Museum of Childhood
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Academic team provided conceptual ideas and content for KS3 learning resource.
Collaborator Contribution Museum team provided curriculum expertise for KS3 learning resource.
Impact KS3 Learning resource - 'War games: fantasy or reality?' This resource helps teachers and pupils examine the extent to which war games reflect the context in which they were produced and how war is perceived for the period 1800 - 2000. The resource has been offered as part of their educational sessions as well as a stand alone resource.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Learning Resources 
Organisation Inspiration Federation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research team drew on their experience of visitor engagement with the V&A Museum of Childhood's War Games exhibition to collaborate with Inspiration Federation to create a set of Learning Resources based on war toys.
Collaborator Contribution Inspiration Federation contributed knowledge of the British school curriculum and experience of producing learning resources to this collaboration.
Impact Drafts for three KS2 learning resources
Start Year 2015
 
Description Puppet psychographies 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Department School of Creative Arts, Film and Media
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Adding geographical perspective to interdisciplinary project and events
Collaborator Contribution Bringing architectural and performance skills/expertise to interdisciplinary project and events
Impact Performance as Research events locally and nationally
Start Year 2018
 
Description REACT Play Sandbox application 
Organisation Coney
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Together with Coney (an interactive theatre company) we made an application to the AHRC REACT Play sandbox. Through discussion with Coney we devised a proposal for an interactive 'world-making' game for use in schools, that drew upon our expertise in Political and Ludic Geographies.
Collaborator Contribution Together with Coney (an interactive theatre company) we made an application to the AHRC REACT Play sandbox. Through discussion with Coney we devised a proposal for an interactive 'world-making' game for use in schools, that drew upon their expertise in interactive game design and working with schools.
Impact The initial output of this collaboration was a joint pitch that was made to the AHRC REACT Play Sandbox. We were unsuccessful in this application, but we remain in contact with Coney about future possibilities of working together.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Sensing War 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Department Department of Sociology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Acted as part of an academic committee for the Sensing War conference.
Collaborator Contribution Acted as part of an academic committee for the Sensing War conference.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary. The academic committee was led by Kevin McSorley from the Department of Sociology, University of Portsmouth, but also included Debbie Lisle from International Relations, Queens University Belfast, and Holger Pötzsch from Media & Culture, University of Tromsø. The main outcome was a two-day international interdisciplinary conference on Sensing War held in London. There are plans for an edited collection based on this event.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Towards playful urban futures? Animating, experimenting and participating in the city as playground. 
Organisation King's College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Jointly convened a double conference session: Towards playful urban futures? Animating, experimenting and participating in the city as playground at RGS (with IBG) Annual International Conference
Collaborator Contribution Jointly convened a double conference session: Towards playful urban futures? Animating, experimenting and participating in the city as playground at RGS (with IBG) Annual International Conference
Impact Book proposal
Start Year 2018
 
Description Website 
Organisation Starboard Media Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Academic content for public-facing website.
Collaborator Contribution Web design expertise for public-facing website.
Impact A public-facing website is currently under construction.
Start Year 2016
 
Description 'Ludic War: Playful Sensibilities and the Geopolitics of Militarism' Geography Department Research Seminar, University of Newcastle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A research seminar to c20 academics at the University of Newcastle, which led to lnegthy discussion and debate
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Art based family activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Family groups attended art based activity sessions as part of War Games exhibition. Participation in activities sparked questions and discussion about war play.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description BBC Radio Devon interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A radio interview for BBC Radio Devon.

The project team received a number of requests for further information and about participation in the project as a result of press coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description BBC World Service TV interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact An interview for the BBC World Service - the BBC's global television channel - as part of the Global programme.

The project team received a number of requests for further information and about participation in the project as a result of the press coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description BFBS radio interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two radio interviews for the British Forces Broadcasting Service as part of different programmes.

The project team received a number of requests for further information and about participation as a result of the press coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Blog - Ludic Geopolitics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The blog not only documents research progress and outputs, but, more substantially, regularly comments on events and stories in the media relating to the broad field of ludic geopolitics to stimulate thinking and encourage interest in our work. The blog has been viewed by people in 80 different countries including Europe, the US and Canada, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Rwanda.

Invitations to contribute to workshops, deliver seminars and school assemblies, and to be included in international publications and forums. Members of the public expressing an interest in being involved in the project. Members of the academic community expressing interest in progress and outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com
 
Description Carlisle Museum Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The talk sparked a lively and lengthy debate amongst those present.

The debate demonstrated that members were engaging with the themes addressed in the talk, reflecting on their own views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Conversation article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In response to a request for an expert commentary on a report about Lego becoming more violent I wrote a piece for The Conversation, an online independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public. Response to the article TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://theconversation.com/are-toys-becoming-more-violent-and-should-we-be-worried-60394
 
Description Cultures of play, culture of war 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion. It was commented by international experts in the field that the methodology used in the research was 'potentially groundbreaking'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Doing Ludic Geopolitics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions, discussion and encouragement to recognise the 'potentially valuable connections to be made' to other disciplinary fields. Comments from experts in the field included:

'This is a fascinating project, and as someone who tends toward a sweeping treatment of militarism I'm grateful for her nuanced discussion....the paper was wonderfully provocative.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Domesticating Geopolitics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact These conference sessions, organised as part of the Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference gathered scholars from different disciplines and different countries to discuss the ways in which geopolitics is domesticated and produced at the level of the home through different practices, objects and perfomativities. There were nine talks which sparked questions and discussions.

We are in the process of compiling a special issue for the the international journal, Geopolitics.

The journal, Geopolitics, approached the the research team about compiling a special issue based the the conference sessions. We are in the process of compiling this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/domesticating-geopolitics-session-report-rgs-with-...
 
Description Enthusiasm Futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Activity led by Tara Woodyer sparked questions and discussion.

Contributed to discussions about how to take the concept of 'enthusiasm' further, with subsequent to co-author work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Express report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report on the project in the Science & Tech section of the paper
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description From the Great Game to Action Man: the geopolitics of play - Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A research seminar to c20 academics at the University of Newcastle, which led to lengthy discussion and debate, and informed development of a journal article
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com/
 
Description Guardian article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The Guardian ran a story on war toys and whether they should be banned that was informed by an interview with Klaus Dodds (26-04-14). More than 180 comments were posted in response to the story. These comments evidenced debate amongst the audience, with individuals reflecting on personal experience (as children and/or parents) and questioning different perspectives.

180 comments from the public were posted online in response to the story.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/26/banned-son-having-toy-guns#comments
 
Description Guardian magazine report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report on project in the Guardian's weekend magazine.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Herald Scotland article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report on project in Herald Scotland newspaper
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description History Today article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article in the popular history magazine, History Today. The magazine has a readership of over 50,000 and the article will also be archived on the magazine's website. The article contextualises contemporary war toys by positioning them within a historical trajectory that looks back to the Boer War and looks forward, considering how new developments in war toys might change the nature of children's war play.

Impacts are as yet unknown, the article will be published in late November 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Independent report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report on project in The Independent newspaper
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Ludic Geopolitics - AAG session 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation in response to a series of talks assembled as a conference session. Presentations sparked questions and comments and further discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Ludic Geopolitics: pacifism and militarism in War Games, then and now 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion.

The questions following the talk demonstrated the audience had engaged with the topic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Ludic Geopolitics: playing with the imaginative geographies of war, Cork 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact ~30 people attended this presentation of research findings, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com/outputs/
 
Description Mail online report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report on the project in the Mail Online. Prompted 103 comments from readers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Meeting with CEO of FUNdamentals (Brand Licensing Show) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Follow up discussion (after sharing of findings report) with CEO and former advisor to prime minister. Response was very positive, with invitation to join Women in Toys networking event and sharing of professional contacts/events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with Playwork expert 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Follow up meeting (after sharing of findings report) with playwork expert to discuss policy recommendations arising from project. Meeting was very positive, with recommendations that have fed into subsequent publications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Museum Education Monitor back to school issue 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Museum Education Monitor blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Museum Talk, Plymouth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a 50 minute lunchtime talk to members of the general public, in association with Plymouth Museum. The talk drew on our research on war and play, and made connections to the 'War Games' exhibition currently on display at the museum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/museum_brochure_jan_to_apr_2016.pdf
 
Description Museum tour - Coventry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ~20 people attended a researcher-led tour of the War Games exhibition, which sparked questions and discussions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description New Funded Project Press Release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release sparked news articles about the project in local, regional, national and online press, and requests for radio and TV interviews.

The following national newspapers ran the story: The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Express, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Mail. The following regional and local outlets ran the story: Daily Echo (Bournemouth), Express & Echo (Exeter), Express & Star (Wolverhampton), Hartlepool Mail (Main), i (The paper for today), Western Daily Press (City), Western Morning News (Devon), Cambridge Evening News, Jersey Evening Post, Nottingham Post, Press & Journal (Aberdeen), Press Association, Shields Gazette, The Courier and Advertiser (Central Scotland), The Irish Examiner, The Northern Echo (North Edition), The Press (York), This is Devon, Herald Scotland, Daily Me (online), Devon Local News, London: The News, Heart South Coast, Big News Network.com (online).

As an example, readers posted 103 comments in response to the story on the Mail Online.

As a result of the press coverage, the project team received a number of requests for further information and/or participation in the project.

The project team did two radio interviews for the British Forces Broadcasting Service for different programmes, a radio interview for BBC Radio Devon, and a TV interview for the BBC World Service.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Online essay for museum - Action Figures, Cultures of Militarism and Geopolitical Logics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An online essay written for a non-academic audience, published on the V&A Museum of Childhood's website as part of their War Games exhibition. The essay discusses the relationship between action figures and national cultures of militarism and changing attitudes to war. War Games explores the relationship between conflict and children's play, providing an insight into the ways toys have been influenced by warfare from 1800 to the present day. With toys and games, as well as photographs and archive documents, War Games represents differing sides of conflicts from around the world. It reveals the sometimes surprising links between play and wider attitudes towards warfare, and delves into the secret history of toys as tools of propaganda and espionage. The exhibition was originally hosted at the museum's London site, before travelling nationwide.

Yet to be confirmed by the museum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.museumofchildhood.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions-and-displays/past-exhibitions-and-displays/...
 
Description Online essay for museum audience - War Games and the Cold war 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An online essay written for a non-academic audience, published on the V&A Museum of Childhood's website as part of their War Games exhibition. The essay discusses the use of games for military training during 'the nuclear age'. War Games explores the relationship between conflict and children's play, providing an insight into the ways toys have been influenced by warfare from 1800 to the present day. With toys and games, as well as photographs and archive documents, War Games represents differing sides of conflicts from around the world. It reveals the sometimes surprising links between play and wider attitudes towards warfare, and delves into the secret history of toys as tools of propaganda and espionage. The exhibition was originally hosted at the museum's London site, before travelling nationwide.

Yet to be confirmed by museum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.museumofchildhood.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions-and-displays/past-exhibitions-and-displays/...
 
Description Play, Toys, War and Conflict Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards, and a network involving academics, and play and museum practitioners has emerged.

A network involving academics, and play and museum practitioners with shared interest in war toys and war play has emerged.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://materialsensibilities.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/play-and-war-key-issues/
 
Description Playful Urban Futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Two conference sessions on Playful Urban Futures. A series of talks sparked questions and discussion afterwards, leading to a book proposal involving academics and practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Playing War: the action figure's role in the domestic co-constitution of geopolitical cultures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

The journal, Geopolitics, approached the research about compiling a special issue on the subject of Domesticating Geopolitics, which will include publication of an extended version of the conference paper. Members of the research team were also invited to contribute to a reading group at the University of Brighton.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://ludicgeopolitics.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/domesticating-geopolitics-session-report-rgs-with-...
 
Description Radio Interview - Newstalk (Ireland) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview discussed our shifting social values in relation to children and violence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Re-enchanting childhood through a consensual approach to theories of relationality 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Paper presented at workshop involving 16 participants spanning Childhood Studies, Early Childhood Education, Literary Studies, Sociology and Media from UK, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Finland and Canada. Participants were also practitioners. Briefing paper authored by PI was circulated prior to the event. Paper and presentation sparked questions and discussions afterwards, and increased interest in the findings of the research project, the field of children's geographies and UK academia. Plans made for future events, the establishment of a formal, dedicated European network and future funding bids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Re-enchantment with the British Military? From Action Man to the HMAF Toy Range 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

Presenter was invited to speak at a departmental seminar series at a prestigious academic institution
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Reimagining the cartographies of the war play dilemma: play as relational ethic 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Delivered to audience including US military personnel. Talk sparked questions and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Reimagining the moral cartographies of the war play dilemma 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to Finnish audience. The talk sparked questions and discussion, with continued dialogue post event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Reimagining the moral cartographies of the war play dilemma 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talk delivered to psychologists. Talk sparked questions and discussion, with an invite to return to work with key individuals to develop ideas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Teachers CPD event, held at Plymouth Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Thie event was organised by the Museum of Childhood (MoC), as was designed for School Teachers from around Plymouth and Devon. It was a tie-in to a forthcoming exhibition at Plymouth Museum entitled 'War Games', which had been devised by the Museum of Childhood, and which the Ludic Geopolitics research project had been observing as it travelled the country. The event was to talk to teachers about how this exhibition could be used for school visits, what resources were available to support this, and how it connected to the National Curriculum. The spakers were the Head of Education from the Museum of Childhood, and representing the Ludic Geopolitics project, Sean Carter. Sean spoke about the research that we have been undertaking with the exhibitions, some of our more general findings on links between war and play, and about the supporting educational resources that we co-designed with the MoC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Technologies of play and the child/military/entertainment industry nexus: video technologies as a democratising tool 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion, and an invitation to contribute to a publication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Telegraph report 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report about the project in the The Telegraph newspaper. Article received 118 posts on Facebook, 2 posts on LinkedIn and 120 shares via other media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The Ludic Geopolitics of War Toys 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

After the talk, the research team were invited to submit a book chapter proposal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Trade magazine article - Toy News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ToyNews is the market leading toy industry magazine and website, with an ABC-accredited readership of 6,199. The content is read via print edition, digital edition, website, apps and email newsletters. With a total reach in excess of 80,000 retail, toy and licensing business readers every month, ToyNews has established itself as an indispensable read for industry professionals, both in the UK and internationally. The article was published in the UK Toy Fair edition, which was distributed to every person attending the trade fair, increasing the usual level and international reach of the readership. The article introduced industry professionals to the research project.

Increase in followers on social media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Unloved Collections 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a practitioner workshop co-organised with the Science Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life. Contributions sparked questions and discussion, and shaped activities.

Invited to contribute to practitioner facing conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Widening Participation Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The talk sparked a number of questions from the pupils in attendance and there was some good discussion during the session.

Generic feedback on the whole event indicated that the sessions was very well received by the schools involved.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014