APLA at AAA 2017: Futures in Crisis

Contested Childhoods in Global Discourses and Local Articulations

A photograph of a ten-year-old Matses boy taken by another boy in the Peruvian Amazon. Submitted by Camilla Morelli.

Thursday, November 30, 2017
6:30 PM – 8:15 PM
Location: Marriott, Thurgood Marshall South

Sponsored by APLA and ACYIG

How are global processes negotiated through local articulations about children? What types of futures are imagined, contested, and resisted through discussions about children’s rights and social obligations towards children? This panel considers local mediations of global crises over nationalism, migration, inequality, social justice, and global uncertainty through the lens of childhood.  One way to explore global interconnectedness is to examine how individuals appropriate, interpret, implement, or resist discourses of global human rights in various contexts (Wilson 2007).  This panel focuses on discourses about children’s rights and contestations about children’s futures in order to analyze how global processes are mediated by state institutions, international organizations, parents, community representatives, and children themselves.  The panel adopts a comparative approach, examining global discursive convergence, as well as varied local reinterpretations of global practices and narratives.  Panel papers draw on research from Canada, Chile, India, Lithuania, Netherlands, and Peru. This collection of papers illustrates that ethnographic study of competing views about children’s futures can contribute to the understanding of complex local political and social responses to global processes.

Organizer: Marina Mikhaylova, Temple University

Chair and Discussant: Christine Nutter El Ouardani, California State University Long Beach



Forest Hunters to Slum Dwellers: the Uncertain Futures of Indigenous Children in Peru
A drawing by a six-year-old Matses girl. Submitted by Camilla Morelli.

Camilla Morelli, University of Bristol

Children and young people construct their own perspectives on the future, often at odds with community discourses.  Morelli shows that indigenous Matses children and young people in Peru actively appropriate and mediate global and national processes, as they envision radically different futures, exposing themselves to new forms of inequality and disrupting the elders’ hopes for social continuity.

Contradictory Discourses of Futurity and Familiarity amidst Crisis: the Child in International Adoption and Surrogacy

Kristen E. Cheney, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Cheney’s paper analyzes marketization of children in family-building initiatives, including international adoption and surrogacy. She examines discussions about children’s rights and parents’ interests amidst a migrant “crisis” and “global emergency” in Netherlands and highlights contradictions and tensions in the valuations of potential futures and precarious presents.

Spotlights and Shadows: Competing Views about Childhood in a Changing World

Sophie Audette Chapdelaine, Sherbrooke University

Audette-Chapdelaine shows that in the context of state-subsidized daycare and schooling in Quebec, local communities and judicial authorities portray children as in need of special protection by a set of state institutions. Criticisms of attachment-type parenting are common, yet mothers construct alternative models of engagement with their children as a response to uncertain futures, contributing to new local and global networks.

Saving the Slaving Child: Domestic Labor, Trafficking, and the Politics of Rescue in India

Vibhuti Ramachandran, New York University

Ramachadran examines non-governmental organizations in New Delhi that invoke global anti-trafficking efforts and India’s progressive legislation to rescue impoverished underage rural girls from domestic work in middle-class households.  These rescue efforts encounter alternative local interpretations of child labor and paths to future security by local police, young domestic laborers, and their families.

Futures at Risk: Global Politics of Childhood and Youth in Lithuania
Lithuanian girls on a trip to France organized by a Lithuanian NGO. Photo by Marina Mikhaylova.

Marina Mikhaylova, Temple University

Mikhaylova considers how transnational initiatives that seek to transform “at-risk” children into “active” citizens and secure Lithuania’s future as a European nation are mediated through local agendas and social divisions.  These initiatives engender inequitable future trajectories, while children and young people reject figurations of youth as the “future” of the nation-state.

Childhood, State Violence and Health in Mapuche People’s Struggle for Territorial Rights

Ana Cortez Salas, University of Chile

Salas illustrates in her discussion of Mapuche People’s territorial rights in Chile that children’s rights can be used to reframe indigenous communities’ political stances.  Mapuche community rejects international human rights’ reports that draw on Western biomedicalized perspectives and Chilean state efforts to design policies that would reduce harm to individual children.  However, Mapuche community members use global definitions of children’s rights to condemn state violence and argue for cultural conception of health contingent on territorial well-being.


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