NOS-HS Workshop Series: Transnational Childhoods, Transnational Rights? Nordic Responses to Global Challenges in the Field of Child Protection
Transnational childhoods, transnational rights is a series of three explorative workshops that examine children’s rights, realities and protection in transnational contexts in Nordic societies. The workshops are funded by NOS-HS, the joint committee for Nordic research councils in the humanities and social sciences.
The contemporary phenomena of transnational interaction and mobility generate new social relations and pose challenges for child protection. The number of transnational child welfare cases handled by Nordic social workers and other authorities has increased in recent years. However, social services such as child protection are traditionally understood and institutionally organized in territorial terms. When mobility involves abusive situations abroad, few services or legal and bureaucratic means for intervention are available to help the children, and may not be suitable for the diverse forms of harmful situations.
Transnational family relations and social spheres provide various strengths and sources of identity and belonging, but the transnational element may also contribute to power imbalances within families, adding to the hardships of the less powerful family members. In principle, parents and other guardians of the child are obligated to act in the best interests of the child. In practice, however, the authority of parents to decide about their child’s travelling, stays abroad or even moving abroad is almost unlimited. Problematic situations can emerge, for example, in cases of substance abuse when the family is staying abroad, children’s or young people’s involuntary stays abroad and domestic abuse, forced or child marriage, female genital mutilation, abducting children to avoid intervention by the child welfare authorities or taking children to conflict areas. In addition, transnational child protection also covers out-of-home placements of children in other countries. There is a general tendency towards framing problems related to children staying abroad in scattered and fragmented terms.
The NOS-HS workshops
The workshops bring together researchers, experts, practitioners, non-governmental organizations and activists from a variety of fields, including sociology, social work, psychology, theology, anthropology, political history and law. The workshops examine the phenomena and address the knowledge gaps under three themes:
We had our first workshop in Oslo on 20-21 January 2022 and it focused on empirical perspectives to problems that children might face in transnational settings. The goal of this opening workshop of the series was to map the diverse phenomena under the umbrella ’transnational child protection and welfare’ and bring together different actors who work in the field.
The second workshop will take place in autumn 2022 and focus on transnational childhoods and law. All children are entitled to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. However, it remains far from clear just how this right is secured in concrete cases involving mobility beyond the territory of a certain state, and how the responsibilities of the state are, in practice, negotiated in different processes. Further information will be announced later during the spring of 2022.
The third workshop will take place in spring 2023.
Silvia Adamo, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen
Anja Bredal, Senior Researcher, Oslo Metropolitan University
Johanna Hiitola, University Lecturer, Gender Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu
Julia Köhler-Olsen, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Oslo Metropolitan University
Sanna Mustasaari, Postdoctoral Researcher, UEF Law School, University of Eastern Finland
Nicole Stybnarova, PhD Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki