Kristen Cheney

  • Professor Kristen E. Cheney is Director of the School of Child & Youth Care at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Cheney’s research deals with children’s survival strategies amidst difficult circumstances and the politics of international development and humanitarian intervention for such children, primarily in Eastern and Southern Africa. Her work takes an explicitly child-centered approach that considers how children experience and respond to the various hegemonic institutional and structural elements of global and local development practices. Dr. Cheney has participated in research, consultancy, and capacity-building projects in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East on issues from children’s rights to youth sexual and reproductive health.

    Her most recent research examines the impact of the global 'orphan industrial complex'—including orphan tourism, childcare institutions, and intercountry adoption—on child protection in developing countries. Author of two monographs, one edited volume, and many articles, she has also led several studies using youth participatory research to explore issues of young people’s sexual and reproductive health, including acting as Principle Investigator for the Adolescents’ Perceptions of Healthy Relationships project in Bulgaria and Tanzania (2017-2021).

    From 2007-13, Dr. Cheney served as co-founder and advisory board chair for the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology of Children & Youth Interest Group. She is currently on the editorial boards of the journals Childhood, American Anthropologist, and the International Journal of Child, Youth, and Family Studies. She was also a member of the international expert group that created the Verona Principles international guidelines on surrogacy and served as ISS representative to the Children’s Rights European Academic Network (CREAN) and Share-Net NL (Netherlands Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health). At ISS, she led the Civic Innovation research group (2018-20) and acted as convenor of Children & Youth Studies and the Social Policy for Development major.

Fellow member
University of Victoria
Expertise on: