Dr Marlies Kustatscher

Programme Director: BA Childhood Practice / Lecturer in Childhood Studies / CERES Co-Director


  • PhD (University of Edinburgh)
  • MSc (University of Edinburgh), Counselling Studies
  • BA (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy), Social Work

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am the Programme Director of the BA Childhood Practice.

I am also a Co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) and an associate researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR).

Undergraduate teaching

I am the Programme Director of the BA Childhood Practice.

I teach in the areas of

  • children's health and well-being, social determinants of health
  • children, education and social justice 
  • child and family sociology 
  • childhood practice research and ethics 

Postgraduate teaching

I teach in the areas of 

  • research with children, methods and epistemologies
  • social justice and intersectionality

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I would be happy to supervise students in the areas of my research interests (please see below). 

Current PhD students supervised

Fatma Büşra Aksoy Kumru:  Active citizenship in the early years: listening to children on decision-making

Min Kyung Kwon:  What are the perspectives of South Korean secondary school students on  current sex education?

Brendan Kwaitkowski: Healthy Masculinity and Adolescence: Resilience to Restrictive Masculinity

Liz Latto: Professional Working Relationships within Local Authority Early Learning and Childcare settings during the Expansion Process

Jane Malcolm: Love, Passion and Professionalism: The Early Years Lead Professional

Gizem Silistire: Exploring young children’s daily experiences in the nursery classroom

Past PhD students supervised

George Low: Where Are All the Disabled Musicians? An Exploration of the Attitudinal and Physical Barriers that Impact on the Identities and Lived Experiences of Musicians With a Physical Impairment

Research summary

  • Children and young people’s social identities and experiences of inequalities (age, race, ethnicity, gender, social class)
  • Children’s rights and participation in research, policy and practice
  • Ethical issues arising in research
  • Intersectionality, feminist research, research with children
  • Children's and practitioners' emotions in educational settings
  • Interdisciplinary, arts-based approaches to activism and change

Knowledge exchange

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Excellence in External Engagement 2016

Together with Dr Kristina Konstantoni I have been awarded a 'College Recognition Award for Excellence in External Engagement' for our collaborative work of engaging with external stakeholders in the field of childhood and youth inequalities. 

Please see under 'Projects' below for more information on knowledge exchange activities.

Research activities

View all 17 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

‘Nosotros Chocó: Pasado y Futuro’ – Young people’s imagined futures in the Colombian Pacific.  (2019)  (PI).Edwar Alexis Calderon, Juan Manuel Gomez, Manuel Beltran, Tony Evanko. University of Edinburgh Global Challenges Research Fund Travel & Partnerships Grant (£3,000)


'Activist arts and youth inequalities – exploring the potential of contemporary art for research impact and transformative change' (2017)

Dr Marlies Kustatscher, Dr Jen Ross, Alan Brown (artist).  Seedcorn Funding (£1,468), Moray House School of Education

This project explores the potential of contemporary art (including conceptual or performance art) to disseminate research on children and young people’s experiences of inequalities, explore new practices of audience engagement and impact, and inspire transformative change. A one-day workshop brought together researchers, young people, Investing in Children (a children's human rights organisation), contemporary artists, and experts from arts organisations (Talbot Rice Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Collective Gallery) to discuss these questions.


'Creating transformative partnerships: Making spaces for tackling childhood and youth inequalities' (2015-16)

A participatory action research project with young people supported by Investing in Children. Funded by a Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (£7,500) and a University of Edinburgh CHSS Challenge Investment Fund (£13,785).

Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI), Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Co-PI) and Co-Is and academic advisors Dr Akwugo Emejulu, Prof John Davis, and Liam Cairns.

This interdisciplinary research project has been initiated by a group of ten young people (aged 10-18) and involves them as co-researchers in a small-scale participatory action research. The research seeks to examine a) young peoples’ views and experiences of intersectional discrimination in their schools and local communities and ways of tackling discriminatory practices, and b) the processes by which meaningful and transformative partnerships (between interdisciplinary researchers, young people, organisations and practitioners) can be established with the aim to effect change in the young people’s lives.

The project is located against the backdrop of an increased emphasis on questions of research impact and social change, and on children and young people’s participation in research, policy and practice, driven by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989). Participation is complex and the challenge is to ensure that it is meaningful, comprehensive and not tokenistic, and involves young people at all stages of a research project (from research design to analysis and dissemination). The project is particularly timely due to the multiple and intersecting experiences of discrimination that young people face in the current social and political climate of austerity, growing inequalities and rising anti-immigration sentiments.


'The World As We Feel It: Talking about emotions across the disciplines'  (2015-16)

Funded by a University of Edinburgh Academic Networking Fund (£3,140)

Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI), Dr Jessica MacLaren (Co-PI) and Professor Pam Smith (Co-PI)

A series of networking and knowledge exchange events with the aim of stimulating debates about the nature and working of emotions: are they cultural practices, neurochemical or psychosocial processes, or contagious algorithms? Speakers share different ways of conceptualising and researching emotions, and discuss their significance for shaping relationships, identities, inequalities, beliefs, aspirations, bodies, perceptions, health and wellbeing, policies, practices and institutions. More information on The World As We Feel It website.


'What next for Childhood Studies? Pushing boundaries' (2015-16)

Funded by a BSA Early Career Forum Grant (£1,000).  Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI) with Dr Kristina Konstantoni (Co-PI)

A one-day conference which sought to raise and debate questions about how the sociology of childhood can push its spatial and disciplinary boundaries in order to make important critical theoretical and methodological contributions not only within the childhood studies field but also beyond, for example to the wider discipline of sociology, feminist studies, geo-politics, education, economics, health and others: 

  • How can childhood researchers make critical connections and contributions across disciplinary and spatial boundaries?
  • How do debates in childhood research and current geo-political, economic and socio-cultural contexts mutually shape each other?
  • How can childhood studies commit to an emancipatory and activist agenda?
  • What is needed to push theoretical and methodological boundaries?


'Children's rights, social justice and social identities: intersections in research, policy and practice' (2013-15)

Funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (£20,000)

Dr Kristina Konstantoni (PI), Dr Marlies Kustatscher (Co-I), Prof. John Davis, University of Edinburgh, Dr Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh, Prof. Geri Smyth and Dr Daniela Sime, University of Strathclyde, Sheila Hamilton, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People and Alison Hosie, Scottish Human Rights Commission).

This seminar series brought together children and young people, children's rights policymakers, practitioners and academics to develop new approaches to tackle children's intersecting inequalities in Scotland and beyond.

Download our seminar series briefing paper 'Children's Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in Research, Policy and Practice' via this link:  Children's Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland PDF


Exploring Young Children's Social Identities: Performing Social Class, Gender and Ethnicity in Primary School (2010-14)

Marlies Kustatscher, PhD, funded by a Principal's Career Development Scholarship from the University of Edinburgh

This research explored the role of social class, gender and ethnicity in 5-7 year-old children’s relationships in a Scottish primary school context. It investigates children’s intersecting social identities in relation to feelings of belonging and being different. The study provides insights into the children's lived experiences in the primary school, highlighting their constant emotional efforts of negotiating a number of different social backgrounds. These insights are relevant to the challenges which professionals working with children and young people as well as policymakers face with regards to fostering inclusive practices, and being attentive to and considerate of children's emotional landscapes in times of political austerity and rising anti-immigration sentiments.


Storytelling and Narrative Well-being Workshop Series (£1,000) (2012-13)

Funded by an Innovation Initiative Grant from the University of Edinburgh

Marlies Kustatscher (Co-PI) and Jessica MacLaren (Co-PI)

This collaboration with the Scottish Storytelling Centre sought to explore the use of storytelling in academia.  The aims of the project were to explore the interfaces of storytelling, research and practice and to encourage creative ways of doing research and communicating with audiences within and outwith academia.

View all 12 publications on Research Explorer