Word(s) of Children and Rights of Children 20th–21st Centuries
International Colloquium of the multidisciplinary program EnJeu[x] Enfance et Jeunesse
Wednesday, 22 and Thursday, 23 November 2017
Call for papers
The twentieth century was seen as one of progress in taking into consideration and valuing the child's word. The 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child proclaimed the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the freedom of assembly (Articles 12 to 15). The collection and respect of the child's word are important issues for the future. On the 25th anniversary of the CRC (2014), in considering the word of the child "innovative and necessary", UNICEF gave the world's children the chance to express their dreams and wishes. The present colloquium aims to examine the place of children's and young people's word in the definition and construction of their rights.
The respect of the child's word
Children should be seen as actors and not only objects of study, as has long been the case. They represent a significant source of information (their word, but more generally their points of view and perception) which should be taken into account in scholarly research in order to better understand the realities of their lives. They were for too long perceived as passive, dependent or incomplete beings. They are now perceived by researchers as full-fledged members of society, and for what they are as children today, not only for what they will be tomorrow... The child's perception of and point of view about his/her environment, his/her well-being or unease, are keys for understanding what should activate the social sciences.
Protection and citizenship
Today, the word of child victims or witnesses can be decisive in triggering medical, psychological or social types of interventions, like in legal proceedings. Yet, the collection of the child's testimony, especially the youngest, is not easy. Children's memories can indeed be altered by many contextual factors (characteristics unique to formal questioning) and individuals (children's personalities and cognitive aptitude). Knowing them and taking them into account when testimony is collected is vital to understanding the reality of the situation.
The civic dimension of the child's word for example is more and more solicited in youth city councils or similar organisations. Children's expression in places of education, throughout their school career, and how this expression is taken into consideration is a developing field which brings up several questions.
The word of the child in institutions
In educational institutions, after long having been confined, stifled and feared, since the 1950s youth experts have lent their ears to children's words. This attention has paradoxical effects: the freeing up of speech by psychological sciences and the occupation of the educator, but also the intrusion of the privacy of children and adolescents. Be that as it may, this value given to the speech of children opens the door to reflection upon the construction of subjectivity, the fabrication of identities, and more generally the consideration of youth as a social group in societies. The child's word is also at the heart of the issue of memory with regards to the experience of institutionalisation, on the rise in Western societies. Long contained, the
expression of painful memories of imprisonment in youth protection facilities have appeared in public debate over the past few years.
In addition to these few themes, issues of study are not limited.
The organisation committee is awaiting on one hand interventions which will propose a reflection on the sources, corpus, access to the data, methods and procedures of practitioners and researchers in the humanities and social sciences around the collection of the child's word; on the other hand monographs and case studies at different scales which present advancements in knowledge.
Throughout the colloquium, in collaboration with the network of Child Friendly Cities of UNICEF France, it will be possible to share practical experiences of child participation.
The languages of the colloquium will be French and English.
Abstracts (400 words maximum, in French or English) accompanied by biographical and bibliographical presentations of their authors are to be sent together to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com before 10 April 2017.
Note: No fee will be asked of participants; the organisation will cover their lodging and meals, but not their travel expenses.