CFP: Child Displacement, Appropriation and Circulation

Workshop: Child displacement, appropriation and circulation: management techniques aimed at children and their families in environments of inequality and violence

1ª Bienal Latinoamericana de Infancias y Juventudes
Manizales, Colombia
17th-21st November 2014

In Latin America, such as in other regions of the world, armed conflicts, dictatorships, political repression, the devastation produced by wars and the development of diverse mechanisms of reproductive government (Morgan & Roberts 2012) have resulted in the displacement and/or separation of numerous children from their birth families. Either through national or international adoption, foster care, and institutionalization or through the appropriation and substitution of their identities, many children have been placed in family, cultural and/or national environments that are different from those of their birth environment. Aiming at different objectives according to the diverse socio-historical and political contexts, such usually coactive practices, in some cases unprecedented, were combined with governmentality techniques (bureaucratic and judicial procedures) and long-standing “life policies” (Fassin 2007) (customary ways of thinking and social ideas on the “protection” and “salvation” of children and their families and/or communities). These were extended and widely accepted thanks to “truth systems” (Foucault, 1978), anchored to (disciplinary) morality standards through which private reproductive behaviors and their public expressions can be governed.

In many cases, these kinds of “critical” events (Das 1995) made visible the socio-cultural schemes that facilitated these practices of child displacement and the separation of children from their birth families. In other cases, it made it possible to get to know the historical depth of informal practices of “child circulation”, which families carried out in order to deal with the rearing of their children, as well as “vertical transfer” mechanisms, through which certain children were separated from their birth families to make them available for adoption.

In this context of analysis, this Workshop aims to:
– Contribute to the knowledge of the proceedings, explanations, moral values and legal procedures used in order to carry out and justify the separation and movement/displacement of children from their birth environments and their placement in alien filiations relationships and other socio-family realities, through diverse forms of violence (wars, practices of social engineering or reproductive governmentality).
– Deploy a comparative approach that combines theoretical discussions from the field of childhood, family and reproductive governmentality studies with ethnographic findings from diverse spatio-temporal contexts, in order to analyze the modalities that characterize the diverse practices of legal/illegal/coercive/voluntary/regulated circulation, as well as those of appropriation and child removal through identity substitution.
– Analyze the transnational dimension of such practices, since many children from populations devastated by to natural disasters, extreme poverty or wars are displaced to high-income countries. This practice both depends on and deepens the inequality between those who give and those who receive, a situation that, through international legislation on inter-country adoption (The Hague, 1993), has turned some countries into “providers” of children and youth to various destinations in order to fulfill different tasks.
– Analyze the diversity of actors, organizations and organisms that take part in one way or another in the deployment of these techniques, as well as deepening the analysis of notions of childhood, family, maternity, kinship, protection and rights, which function as the basis and support of such techniques.
– Deepen the processes of construction of demands of truth and justice that have been promoted in recent years by various social organizations and human rights bodies from a range of countries.
-Invigorate and expand knowledge on the modalities that have characterized the practices of child responsibility transfers, as well as deepen the debate with respect to the forms of current public policies aimed at protecting the right to personal intimacy, family living and child identity, and debates brought about the right to know one’s “origins”.

We encourage those who are interested in participating to send a title, abstract (of no more than 250 words) and a short cv until July 14 to:

Carla Villalta: or Diana Marre:

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