Seminar: The Orphan Industrial Complex: charitable commodification and its consequences for child protection in Africa

In her book Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV and AIDS, Kristen Cheney argues that the misidentification of “orphans” as a category for development and humanitarian intervention has subsequently been misappropriated by many Western individuals and charitable organizations, resulting in an ‘orphan industrial complex’ that problematically commoditizes children as targets for charitable intervention - particularly in the global south. The discourse and practice of “orphan rescue” drives the “production” of orphans as objects for particular kinds of intervention that are counter to established international standards of child protection. Using a case study of Uganda, Cheney will explain the concept of the orphan industrial complex: how it works and what its consequences are for children, families, and child protection systems.

Kristen Cheney's book is for sale (only a few copies; 25 euros; cash please).


Kristen CheneyKristen E. Cheney is Associate Professor of Children and Youth Studies for the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Dr. Cheney’s research deals with children’s survival strategies amidst difficult circumstances and the politics of humanitarian intervention for such children, mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa. Her first book, Pillars of the Nation: Child Citizens and Ugandan National Development (2007), looks broadly at the social intersections of childhood and nationhood in international development, while her new book, Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV/AIDS (2017, University of Chicago Press) draws on youth participatory ethnographic research with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to examine issues of social exclusion, policy, and protection for children affected by HIV/AIDS. 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. She has also led several studies using youth participatory research to explore issues of youth sexual and reproductive health. 

Date, time and location

14 September 2017
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room SA49 (basement)