A Tale of Two Trees: How Children Make Space in the City
  • Sofia CeleEmail author
Part of the Children: Global Posthumanist Perspectives and Materialist Theories book series (CGPPMT)


This is a tale of a lilac and a linden tree. It is a tale of how children play with places, and how places play with children. It is a tale about a city that is increasingly hostile towards children’s play, and how children find ways of overcoming the boundaries of their environment. By exploring the relationship to trees, it is brought forward how seemingly trivial ‘things’ in everyday life play an important role in how children construct spaces for play, exploration and calm, as well as find meaning in their everyday life. Through two individual, but also representative, examples of how children relate to trees, it is shown how children engage in active relationships with the trees. Through various embodied narratives, the children express how the trees are agential rather than passive objects. Through the narratives, it is also clear that children actively create physical and mental spaces where they ‘fit in’ when the surrounding environment is too restrictive and controlling.


  1. Barad, K. M. (2003). Post humanist performativity: Towards an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801–831. Scholar
  2. Barad, K. M. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter. A political ecology of things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Casey, E. (2001). Getting back into Place. Toward a renewed understanding of the place-world. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cele, S. (2006). Communicating place. Methods for understanding children’s experience of place. Stockholm: Almqwist & Wiksell International.Google Scholar
  6. Cele, S. (2013). Performing the political through public space: Teenage girls’ everyday use of a city park. Space & Polity, 17(1), 74–87. Scholar
  7. Cele, S. (2015) Childhood in a neoliberal utopia. Planning rhetoric and parental conceptions in contemporary Stockholm. Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, 97(3), 233–247. Scholar
  8. van der Burgt, D., & Cele, S. (2014). Barnen och stadsrummet: Relationer mellan kompetens, ålder och delaktighet. Sociologisk forskning, 51(1), 29–46.Google Scholar
  9. Cele, S., & van der Burgt, D. (2015). Participation, consultation, confusion: Professionals’ understandings of children’s participation in physical planning. Children’s Geographies, 13(1), 14–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cele, S., & van der Burgt, D. (2016). Children’s embodied politics of exclusion and belonging in public space. In K. P. Kallio, S. Mills, & T. Skelton (Eds.), Politics, citizenship and rights (pp. 189–205). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Christensen, J. H., Mygind, L., & Bentsen, P. (2015). Conceptions of place: Approaching space, children and physical activity. Children’s Geographies, 13(5), 589–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cook, T., & Hess, E. (2007). What the camera sees and from whose perspective. Fun methodologies for engaging children in enlightening adults. Childhood, 14(1), 29–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Colls, R., & Hörschelmann, K. (2009). The geographies of children’s and young people’s bodies. Children’s Geographies, 7(1), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Laval, S. (1997). Planerare och boende i dialog. Metoder för utvärdering. Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  15. De Laval, S. (2014). Gåturer. Stockholm: Svensk Byggtjänst.Google Scholar
  16. Dewsbury, J. D. (2000). Performativity and the event: Enacting a philosophy of difference. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18, 473–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hordyk, S. R., Dulude, M., & Shem, M. (2015). When nature nurtures children: Nature as a containing and holding space. Children’s Geographies, 13(5), 571–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horton, J., & Kraftl, P. (2006). Not just growing up, but going on: Materials, spacings, bodies, situations. Children’s Geographies, 4(3), 259–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kallio, K. P., & Häkli, J. (2011). Young people’s voiceless politics in the struggle over urban space. GeoJournal, 76, 63–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kusenbach, M. (2003). Street phenomenology: The go-along as ethnographic research tool. Ethnography, 4(3), 455–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pyyry, N. (2015). ‘Sensing with’ photography and ‘thinking with’ photographs in research into teenage girls hanging out. Children’s Geographies, 13(2), 149–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rautio, P. (2013). Children who carry stones in their pockets: On autotelic material practices in everyday life. Children’s Geographies, 11(4), 394–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rasmussen, K. (2004). Places for children—Children’s places. Childhood, 11(2), 155–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rasmussen, K. (1999). Om fotografering og fotografi som forskningsstrategi i barndomsforskning. Dansk Sociologi, 10(1), 64–78.Google Scholar
  25. Sack, R. D. (1997). Homo geographicus. A framework for action, awareness and moral concern. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Seigwoth, G. J. (2000). Banality for cultural studies. Cultural Studies, 14, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954). Lord of the rings: The two towers. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  28. Änggård, E. (2016). How matter comes to matter in children’s nature play: Posthumanist approaches and children’s geographies. Children’s Geographies, 14(1), 77–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Änggård, E. (2015). Digital cameras: Agents in research with children. Children’s Geographies, 13(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations