Kristen Cheney

Kristen Cheney
Position
Director
School of Child and Youth Care
Area of expertise

orphans/orphanhood, intercountry adoption, child institutionalization, youth with lived experience of care; humanitarianism, international child protection regimes, political economy of childhood and international development; adolescent/youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, children and assisted reproductive technologies; decolonizing and participatory research methods

Kristen Cheney

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY:

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 voluntourism, 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 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.

 

 

RESEARCH INTERESTS: orphans/orphanhood, intercountry adoption, child institutionalization, youth with lived experience of care; humanitarianism, international child protection regimes, political economy of childhood and international development; adolescent/youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, children and assisted reproductive technologies; decolonizing and participatory research methods.

 

 

SAMPLE PUBLICATIONS:

 

Books

Disadvantaged Childhoods and Humanitarian Intervention: Processes of Affective Commodification and Objectification (2019) Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan (ed., with A. Sinervo).

 

Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV and AIDS (2017) Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 

Pillars of the Nation: Child Citizens and Ugandan National Development (2007) Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 

 

Articles and chapters

“Overcoming the Adult Gaze in Participatory Research with Young People” in B. Percy-Smith, P. Thomas, C. O’Kane and A. Twum-Danso Imoh (eds), A New Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: Conversations for Transformational Change, forthcoming 2022, London: Routledge.

 

“Closing New Loopholes: Protecting Children in Uganda’s International Adoption Practices”, Childhood, 2021, 28(4): 555-569.

 

“Anthropology and the Politics of Childhood in Africa” In R. Grinker, S. Lubkemann, C. Steiner and E. Gonçalves (eds) Companion to the Anthropology of Africa, 2019, 307-322. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

“Decolonizing Childhood Studies: Overcoming Patriarchy and Prejudice in Child-related Research and Practice” In S. Spyrou, D. Cook and R. Rosen (eds) Re-imagining Childhood Studies, 2018, 91-104. London: Bloomsbury Press.

 

Addicted to Orphans: How the Global Orphan Industrial Complex Jeopardizes Local Child Protection Systems” (with K.S. Rotabi) In: T. Skelton, C. Harker, and K. Hörschelmann (eds), Conflict, Violence and Peace. Geographies of Children and Young People, vol 11, 2017, 89-107. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

 

“Preventing exploitation, promoting equity: Findings from the International Forum on Intercountry Adoption and Global Surrogacy”, Adoption & Fostering, 2016, 40(1): 6-19.

 

“Blood binds: Confronting the moral and political economies of orphanhood and adoption in Uganda”, Childhood, 2016, 23(2): 192–206.

 

“Giving Children a ‘Better Life’? Reconsidering social reproduction and humanitarianism in intercountry adoption”, European Journal of Development Research, 2014, 26(2): 247–263.

 

“Children as Ethnographers: Reflections on the importance of participatory research in assessing orphans’ needs”, Childhood, 2011, 18(2): 166-79.

 

 

Special issues edited

“Adolescents’ Perceptions of Healthy Relationships”, International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, (forthcoming 2023).

“20 Years of the ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize: Celebrations and Reflections”, African Studies Review (2021).

“Social Justice for Children in East Africa”, Childhood in Africa, Spring 2017, 4(1).

“Children and young people in times of conflict and change: Child rights in the Middle East and North Africa”, Global Studies of Childhood, 5(2), June 2015. 

“Deconstructing Childhood Vulnerability”, Childhood in Africa, 2(1), December 2010.