Professor Peter Kraftl BA (Hons), PhD, FRGS, FAcSS

Professor Peter Kraftl

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Chair in Human Geography

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Peter Kraftl is best known for his research on children’s geographies, and especially for research into the emotions, affects, materialities and practices that make up their everyday lives. He also publishes on geographies of education and architecture. He is currently an Editor of the journals Area and Children’s Geographies and was a founding member of the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). He is also an Honorary Professor at the School of Education, RMIT, Melbourne.

From 2018-2020, he held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship on Plastic Childhoods, which examines the many ways in which plastics are entangled with children’s lives.

Google Scholar page

Peter is a member of the Directors Collective of the Children and Childhood Network at the University. The network brings together academic staff and students from across the University who are interested in interdisciplinary childhood research. For further details visit our Children and Childhood Network pages.

Peter is part of the Birmingham Plastics Network, an interdisciplinary team of more than 40 academics working together to shape the fate and sustainable future of plastics.  This unique team brings together chemists, environmental scientists, philosophers, linguists, economists, and experts in many other fields, to holistically address the global plastics problem.


BA (Hons.) Geography, University of Wales Swansea, 2001
PhD Geography, University of Wales Swansea, 2005


Professor Peter Kraftl completed his PhD in Geography at the University of Wales Swansea in 2005. His PhD focused on utopian practices at two ecological buildings, and spawned his longstanding interest in children’s geographies, education and architecture. Peter worked at the Centre for Children and Youth at the University of Northampton between 2004-2007. He moved to the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester in 2007. There, he progressed through Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader before becoming a Chair in Human Geography in January 2014. He took up a Chair in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham in September 2015. In 2020 he was conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and awarded the prestigious Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Murchison Award for his longstanding work on geographies of childhood and education

Peter is the author of eight books and over 60 journal articles. His work is often placed centrally within a so-called ‘new wave’ of childhoods studies, as it focuses on questions of emotion, affect, materiality, memory and much more besides. At the intersection of these theoretical debates, he has developed a longstanding, substantive interest in children’s experiences of newly-built (and ‘sustainable’) urban spaces, in alternative education spaces and environmental education, and in the design and inhabitation of school buildings.

He recently completed a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (called ‘Plastic Childhoods’), which examines these theoretical issues through the lens of contemporary concerns about plastics in the environment. Peter has also been collaborating with colleagues in Canada and Australia as part of an SSHRC-funded project on climate change pedagogies, and with colleagues in Brazil via Newton- and European Research Council-funded projects about young people and the food-water-energy nexus (details below).

Peter has led or co-led a number of funded projects on the above themes, including the following.

European Research Commission, Co-ordinator (PI), “Building resilience in the face of nexus threats: local knowledge and social practices of Brazilian youth”. Awarded Eur. 270,327 (£240,000), duration May 2019-May 2022.

Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Principal Investigator, “Plastic Childhoods”. Awarded £51,389, duration June 2018-December 2019. Awarded £51,000, duration September 2018-March 2020.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, UK PI, “Climate Action Network: Exploring Climate Change Pedagogies with Children”. Awarded Canadian $200,000 [£120,000], duration April 2017-March 2020.

ESRC-Newton-FAPESP, Principal Investigator, “(R)econnect the Nexus: Young Brazilians’ Experiences of and Learning about Food-Water-Energy”. Awarded £425,000, duration January 2016-September 2018. 

ESRC-CONFAP (Newton Fund, Collaboration/Networking Grant), Co-Investigator, “Sharing Futures: Sustainable Urban Transformations in Water and Energy". Awarded £90,886, duration January 2015-December 2016. 

ESRC, Co-investigator, “New Urbanisms, New Citizens: children and young people’s everyday life and participation in sustainable communities” (with researchers at Warwick University and The University of Northampton). Awarded £670,000, project duration June 2009-June 2012. Website:

AHRC/EPSRC, Co-investigator, “Realising participatory design with children and young people: A case study of design and refurbishment in schools” (with researchers at The University of Northampton, Coventry University and Keele University). Part of ‘Designing for the Twenty-First Century’ Programme. Awarded £330,000, project duration January 2007- April 2009.

Peter is currently Honorary Secretary of the Research and Higher Education Division of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). He was an Editor of Area and Children’s Geographies journals. He was a founding member of the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and was the Research Group’s Chair from 2012-15. He has given invited talks around the world, including in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Canada, and held visiting Professorships in those countries. He is fortunate enough to be a member of the incredible Common Worlds collective, whose global membership examines children’s lives as they are embedded with/in more-than-human relations.

Peter has worked with a range of international, national and local organisations, largely based on his work with children and young people in new or emerging urban places. He is currently advising national and local agencies involved in the delivery of large, master-planned housing developments in the UK about how best to include children and young people in their design processes.


I currently teach on the following modules:

  • Year 1 Contemporary Human Geography (module convenor)
  • Year 1 Tutorials and Study Skills for Human Geographers
  • Year 3 Geographies of Childhood and Education (module convenor)
  • Master’s Doing Human Geography (module convenor)

Postgraduate supervision

I currently supervise eleven PhD students, working on a variety of topics. I welcome applicants from prospective students on any of the following topics.

  • Children’s geographies - especially (but not exclusively) with conceptual interests in nonrepresentational, posthuman and new materialist theories.
  • Geographies of education – especially alternative education
  • Geographies of architecture (including sustainable urban design)
  • Utopia, hope, everyday ‘alternatives’


Peter is part of the Human Geography Research Group. His work falls into the following sub-themes:

  • Geographies of Childhood, Youth and Education
  • Adapting to Energy and Environmental Uncertainties
  • Embodied Geographies

Research interests

  • Children’s geographies (especially child-friendly cities and children & environmental change)
  • Geographies of education – especially alternative education
  • Geographies of architecture (including sustainable urban design)
  • Utopia, hope, everyday ‘alternatives’

Other activities

  • Honorary Secretary, Research and Higher Education Division, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
  • Former Editor of Area journal and Children’s Geographies journals
  • Founding member and Chair (2012-15), Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
  • Editorial Board member and Volume Editor, Springer Major Reference work on Geographies of Children and Young People
  • External Examiner, Coventry University BA Geography Degree, 2013-
  • External Examiner, University of Gloucestershire Playwork Degrees, 2012-
  • External Examiner, Cardiff University Geography Degree, 2016-
  • Editor, Spaces of Childhood and Youth book series (Routledge)
  • Member of ESRC Peer Review College, 2010-
  • Member of GCRF Peer Review College, 2018-
  • Visiting positions at Warwick, Otago, Linkoping, Western (Ontario) and RMIT Universities


Books and articles in peer-reviewed journals only (details of book chapters, reports and other publications available on request)


Kraftl, P. (2020) After Childhood: re-thinking environment, materiality and media in children's lives. London: Routledge.

Christensen, P., Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2017) Children Living in Sustainable Built Environments: New Urbanisms, New Citizens. London: Routledge.

Nairn, K. and Kraftl, P. (2016) Space, Place and Environment (volume three of Springer Major Reference Work on Geographies of Children and Young People, Editor-in-Chief Tracey Skelton). Berlin: Springer.

Blazek, M. and Kraftl, P. (2015) Children’s Emotions in Policy and Practice: Mapping and Making Spaces of Childhood and Youth. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mills, S. and Kraftl, P. (2014) Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories, Practices. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Kraftl, P. (2013) Geographies of alternative education: Diverse learning spaces for children and young people. Bristol: Policy Press.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2013) Cultural Geographies: An Introduction. London: Pearson Education.

Kraftl, P., Horton, J. and Tucker, F. (eds.) (2012) Critical Geographies of Childhood and Youth: Policy and Practice. Bristol: Policy Press.

Papers in peer-reviewed journals

(in addition I have published five book reviews, not listed here)

Kraftl, P., Lynch, I., Menzel, A., Jarman, P., Walker, A. and Hadfield-Hill, S., (in press, 2021). So you’re literally taking the piss?! Critically analysing and accounting for ethics (and risk) in interdisciplinary research on children and plastics. Children’s Geographies. Online early.

Andres, L. and Kraftl, P. (in press, 2021) New directions in the theorisation of temporary urbanisms: adaptability, activation and trajectory. Progress in Human Geography. Online early.

Kraftl, P., Andrews, W., Beech, S., Ceresa, G., Holloway, S., Johnson, V. and White, C. (in press, 2021) Geographies of Education: A Journey. Area. Online early.

Börner, S., Giatti, L. and Kraftl, P. (in press, 2020) Blurring the "-ism" in youth climate crisis activism: everyday agency and practices of marginalized youth in the Brazilian urban periphery. Children’s Geographies.

Zara, C., Kraftl, P., Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J. and Coles, B. (in press, 2020) Geographies of food beyond food: transfiguring nexus-thinking through encounters with young people in Brazil. Social and Cultural Geography.

Kraftl, P., Taylor, A. and Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (in press, 2020) Childhood Studies in the Anthropocene. Discourse.

Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J., Kraftl, P., Balestieri, J., Vilanova, M., Dias, R., and Soares, P. (in press, 2020) Spaces of interdisciplinary in/congruity: the coming together of engineers and social scientists in planning for sustainable urban environments. International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development.

Balestieri, J., Delamaro, M., Kraftl, P., Campos, A., Soares, P., Leal, R. and Silveira, G. (2019) Youngsters and children and water supply in Guaratinguetá, Lorena, and Potim (SP, Brazil): perceptions, knowledge, and sources of information. In: 6ª Conferência Internacional sobre Geografias das Crianças, da Juventude e das Famílias.  Campinas : GALOÁ. 2019. Available from:

Brown, G. and Kraftl, P. (2019) Theorising cohortness: (mis)fitting into student geographies. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, online early.

Kraftl, P., Balastieri, J., Campos, A., Coles, B., Hadfield-Hill, S., Horton, J., Soares, P., Vilanova, M., Walker, C. and Zara, C. (2019) (Re)Thinking (Re)Connection: Young People, ‘Natures’ and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in São Paulo State, Brazil. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 44: 299-314.

Trajber, R., Walker, C., Marchezini, V., Kraftl, P., Olivato, D., Hadfield-Hill, S., Xara, C. and Monteiro, S. (2019) Promoting climate change transformation with young people in Brazil: participatory action research through a looping approach. Action Research 17: 87-107.

Leal, R., Balastieri, J., Zara, C., Walker, C., Hall, J. and Kraftl, P. (2018) (Re)Conectando O Nexo: Percepção De Jovens Brasileiros Sobre O Nexo Água-Energia-Alimento [(Re)Connect the Nexus: Young Brazilians’ perceptions of the Food-Water-Energy Nexus] Educação em Foco. 23(3) 305-330.

Kraftl, P. and Horton, J. (2018, online early) Neon bright: Cool Places, youth cultures and hopeful political-theoretical futures. Children’s Geographies.

Kraftl, P. (2018, online early) A Double-Bind? Taking New Materialisms Elsewhere in Studies of Education and Childhood. Research in Education.

Kraftl, P., Bolt, G. and van Kempen, R. (2018, online early) Hyper-diversity in/and Geographies of Childhood and Youth. Social and Cultural Geography.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2018) Rats, assorted shit and 'racist groundwater': towards extra-sectional understandings  of childhoods and social-material processes. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 36: 926-948.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2017) Three playgrounds: researching the multiple geographies of children’s outdoor play. Environment and Planning A 50: 214-235.

Jarvis, C., Kraftl, P. and Dickie, J. (2017) (Re)Connecting spatial literacy with children’s geographies: GPS, Google Earth and children’s everyday lives. Available online early in Geoforum. 81: 22-31.

Pini, B., Gulson, K.N., Kraftl, P. and Dufty‐Jones, R., 2017. Critical geographies of education: an introduction. Geographical Research55(1), pp.13-17.

McKendrick, J., Kraftl, P., Mills, S., Gregorius, S. and Sykes, G. (2016) Geographies for play in austere times. International Journal of Play. 4: 228-235.

McKendrick, J., Kraftl, P., Mills, S., Gregorius, S. and Sykes, G. (2016) Geographies for play in austere times. International Journal of Play. 4: 291-298.

Kraftl, P. (2016) The force of habit: Channeling young bodies at alternative education spaces. Critical Studies in Education. 57: 116-130.

Mills, S. and Kraftl, P. (2016) Cultural geographies of education. Cultural Geographies. 23: 19-27.

Horton, J., Hadfield-Hill, S. and Kraftl, P. (2015) Children living with Sustainable Urban Architectures. Environment and Planning A. 47: 903-921.

Kraftl, P. (2015) Alter-childhoods: Biopolitics and childhoods in alternative education spaces. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 105: 219-237.

Kraftl, P. (2014) What are alternative education spaces – and why do they matter? Geography. 99: 128-139.

McKendrick, J., Horton, J., Kraftl, P. and Else, P. (2014) Bursting the bubble or opening the door? Appraising the impact of austerity on playwork and playwork practitioners in the UK. Journal of Playwork Practice 1: 61-69.

Kraftl, P., Horton, J. and Tucker, F. (2014) Children’s Geographies. Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies, published online; DOI 10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0080

Kraftl, P. (2014) Liveability and urban architectures: Mol(ecul)ar biopower and the becoming-lively of Sustainable Communities. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 274-292.

Horton, J., Christensen, P., Kraftl, P. and Hadfield-Hill, S. (2014) 'Walking...just walking': How children and young people's everyday walking practices come to matter', Social and Cultural Geography 15: 94-115.

Kraftl, P., Christensen, P., Horton, J. and Hadfield-Hill, S. (2013) Living on a Building Site: Young People’s Experiences of Emerging ‘Sustainable Communities’ in England. Geoforum. 50: 191-199.

Kraftl, P. (2013) Beyond ‘voice’, beyond ‘agency’, beyond ‘politics’? Hybrid childhoods and some critical reflections on children’s emotional geographies. Emotion, Space and Society. 9: 13-23.

Kraftl, P. (2013) Towards Geographies of Alternative Education: A Case Study of UK Homeschooling Families. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 38: 436-450.

Horton, J., Hadfield-Hill, S., Christensen, P. and Kraftl, P. (2013) Children, Young People and Sustainability: Introduction to Special Issue. Local Environment 18: 249-254.

Kraftl, P. (2012) Utopian Promise or Burdensome Responsibility? A Critical Analysis of the UK Government’s Building Schools for the Future Policy, Antipode 44: 847-870

Brown, G., Kraftl, P., Pickerill, J. and Upton, C. (2012) Holding the future together: towards a theorisation of the spaces and times of transition, Environment and Planning A 44: 1607–1623.

Den Besten, O., Horton, J., Adey, P. and Kraftl, P. (2011) “Claiming events of school (re)design: materialising the promise of Building Schools for the Future”, Social and Cultural Geography 12: 9-26.

Kraftl, P. (2010) “Architectural movements, utopian moments: (in)coherent renderings of the Hundertwasser-Haus, Vienna”, Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography 92: 327-345.

Kraftl, P. (2010) “Geographies of architecture”, Geography Compass 4: 402-415.

Pyer, M., Horton, J., Ryan, S. and Tucker, F. and Kraftl, P., (2010) “Editorial: children, young people and ‘disability’: geographical challenges”, Children’s Geographies 8: 1-8.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2009) “What (else) matters? Policy contexts, emotional geographies”, Environment and Planning A 41: 2984-3002.

Den Besten, O., Horton, J., Kraftl, P. and Adey, P. (2009) “Building a box: discourses of school design in the UK”, Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal 3: 95-103.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2009) “Small acts, kinds words and “not too much fuss”: implicit activisms”, Emotion, space and society 2: 14-23.

Kraftl, P. (2009) “Utopia, childhood and intention”, Journal for Cultural Research, 13(1): 69-88.

Garforth, L. and Kraftl, P. (2009) Special issue & editorial, Journal for Cultural Research on “Utopia and the ‘problem’ of intention”, 13(1): 1-4.

Barker, J., Kraftl, P., Horton, J. and Tucker, F. (2009) Editorial introduction “The road less travelled? New directions in children’s mobility”, special issue of Mobilities 4: 1-10.

Kraftl, P. (2009) “Living in an artwork: the extraordinary geographies of everyday life at the Hundertwasser-Haus, Vienna”, Cultural Geographies 16: 111-134.

Den Besten, O., Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2008) “Pupil involvement in school (re)design: participation in policy and practice”, Co-Design 4: 197-210.

Horton, J., Kraftl, P., and Tucker, F. (2008) “The challenges of ‘Children’s Geographies’: a reaffirmation”, Children’s Geographies 6(4): 335-348. 

Kraftl, P. and Horton, J. (2008) “Spaces of every-night life: for geographies of sleep, sleeping and sleepiness”, Progress in Human Geography 32: 509-524. [Selected for inclusion and reprinted in: Hsu, E. (Ed.) (2016) Sleep: Critical Concepts. London: Routledge.

Kraftl, P. (2008) “Young people, hope and childhood-hope”, Space and Culture, 11: 81-92.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2008) “Reflections on geographies of age”, Area, 40: 284-288.

Kraftl, P. and Adey, P. (2008) “Architecture/affect/dwelling”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 98: 213-231.

Kraftl, P., Horton, J. and Tucker, F. (2007): edited special issue of Built Environment on ‘Environments for children’, 33(4).

Kraftl, P. (2007) “Utopia, performativity and the unhomely”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 25(1): 120-143.

Kraftl, P. and Horton, J. (2007) ‘The Health Event’: Everyday, Affective Politics of Participation. Geoforum. 38: 1012-1027.

Kraftl, P. (2006) “Spacing out an unsettling utopian ethics”, Spaces of Utopia. 1: 1-21. Available online at

Kraftl, P. (2006) “Building an idea: The material construction of an ideal childhood”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 31(4): 488-504.

Kraftl, P. (2006) “Ecological buildings as performed art: Nant-y-Cwm Steiner School, Pembrokeshire”, Social and Cultural Geography. 7(6): 927-948.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2006) “What else? Some more ways of thinking about and doing children’s geographies”, Children’s Geographies. 4(1): 69-95.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2006) “Not just growing up, but going on: children’s geographies as becomings; materials, spacings, bodies, situations”. Children’s Geographies. 4(3): 259-276.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2005) “Editorial. For more-than-usefulness: six overlapping points about Children’s Geographies”, Children’s Geographies. 3(2): 131-143.

Kraftl, P. (2005) “Ruining utopia”. Skandalon 1(1).