25 Years

Subjects, Objects, Agents: Children's Lives and Livelihoods in the Global South

This collaborative research circle brings together an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students with a commitment to understanding the lives and livelihoods of children in the global south.  Specifically, participants will examine the ways in which children are constructed as individual subjects in development discourses; as objects of policy intervention; and as active agents making meaning amidst conditions of social and economic marginalization.  Through a series of workshops, reading/research group sessions, and invited speakers, this group will seek to bridge the divide between theory and empirical research on children in development through discussion of a wide range of texts and consideration of their own research and that of other scholars.  

Each member is currently engaged in scholarship relevant to his/her discipline, but the thematic focus of the group is reflected in a set of overarching research questions:

  • How are children deployed as instrumentally rational agents  in demographic, economic, and educational discourses, and whose interests are served by these specific ends (e.g., fertility decline, economic growth, school completion)?
  • To what extent do policies and program aimed at the protection of children’s rights recognize the intersectionality of childhood with other forms of potential marginalization (including but not limited to gender, race, disability status, and sexual orientation)?
  • How do children themselves understand their experiences with marginalization, and what strategies do they employ in different contexts to secure livelihoods for themselves and their families?


Deborah Levison
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

MJ Maynes

Fran Vavrus
Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development

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