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Children as Subjects of Control: Interventions in Children’s Mobilities

Friday 18 June 2021 at 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The prevailing global north construction of childhood as a period of innocence and dependence means that the independent mobility of those deemed to be children (whether in search of pleasure, earning opportunities, or even safety) is imagined as fraught with danger. It is frequently discussed under the rubric of ‘trafficking’, whether or not movement was organised by an adult, whether or not it was actively chosen by the child, and whether or not it led to harmful outcomes. Likewise, moral anxieties about and policy interest in adult-controlled child mobility do not necessarily reflect a concern with the wishes or interests of the child concerned.

The three papers presented at this seminar address different kinds of interventions currently being made into children’s mobility by different actors, opening up questions about how and why lines between legitimate/illegitimate and benign/harmful are drawn in popular, policy, and academic discourse on children’s movement.


  • Dr Michael Boampong, Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies, The Open University, on ‘Transnational childhoods: the child-raising strategies of British-Ghanaian families‘. Michael’s research interests concern the intersection of globalisation and local practices and their impact on transnational childhoods and youth transitions. Here he will draw on multi-sited ethnographic accounts of transnational children and parents in Ghana and the UK to reveal experiences of ‘going back’ to Ghana and ‘coming back’ to the UK for economic and moral reasons.
  • Dr Esther Bott, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Nottingham, on ‘Orphanage tourism and saviourism: discourse, damage, dilemmas‘. Esther’s research includes tourism (im)mobilities and privileged geographies. She will speak here about the growing and highly lucrative orphanage tourism in Nepal and other LEDCs, and in particular how the framing of both Western tourists and the orphanage children – assumed to be immobile and viewed as victims of trafficking – is politicised.
  • Dr Sam Okeyere, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Bristol, on the International Justice Mission’s (IJM) campaign to combat child labour and trafficking in Ghana. Sam’s research focuses on the linkages between human and child rights, power, migration, globalisation and the legacies of slave trade and colonisation. In this paper he will look at the problematic assumptions about children’s (im)mobility, fosterage and family relations that underpin the IJM and other NGOs efforts to end child labour, conceived as ‘modern slavery’.


To register, please visit the Eventbrite page.



Friday 18 June 2021
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm