Preliminary Programme

Wed 12 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 13 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 14 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 15 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00

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Wednesday 12 April 2023 14.00 - 16.00
O-3 EDU03 Demanding Justice: Survivor Activism Against Institutional Child Abuse
C33
Network: Education and Childhood Chair: Johanna Sköld
Organizer: Katie Wright Discussant: Malin Arvidsson
Moderators: -
Stine Grønbæk Jensen : Autobiographies as Activism among Care-leavers
In winter 2018, Frank Nielsen, who manages the Facebook group, "Orphanages in Denmark", made a post where he wrote: "Dear members, if each of you was a book to be published, what would be the title?" Overwhelmingly many responded to the post straight away. Here is some of the answers: ... (Show more)
In winter 2018, Frank Nielsen, who manages the Facebook group, "Orphanages in Denmark", made a post where he wrote: "Dear members, if each of you was a book to be published, what would be the title?" Overwhelmingly many responded to the post straight away. Here is some of the answers: ”My life under the radar”, ”Lies and abandonment”, ”A distorted childhood”, ”An unwanted orphan”, ”Tolerated but unloved”, ”The (il)legitimate child”, ”Never give up”, ”A trapped soul”, ”Rootless”, ”The child of the revolving doors”, ”The black sheep”, ”Thistles in bloom.” The prompt answers indicate that many former institutionalized children – or care-leavers – have a dream about the autobiographical book that they would eventually write. Indeed, many of the care-leavers I have been in contact with during my research on their memories and memory work was planning to write a book, was writing on a book, or had already written a book. These books are not driven by artistic or aesthetic ambitions, but rather by therapeutic and political necessity. The care-leavers hope to change their relation to themselves. But they also want to point out unjust in the past and turn their suffering into a shared political and ethical issue. In my presentation I will examine these books as a special kind of subliterature and activism. I will do this by asking the questions: 1) What are the key thematic and formal characteristics of this literature? 2) What are the existential and political potentials of writing these books? And 3) How do the authors manage the inconsistencies between the redeeming plot in their book and the downturns they experience in life after the book is published. (Show less)

Patricia Lundy : Activism and Historical Institutional Abuse
This talk critically explores the utility and role of activist research and how it can create pathways to justice for survivors of institutional childhood abuse. It draws on empirical research carried out in Northern Ireland and collaboration with the survivor-driven Panel of Experts on Redress. The paper argues that power ... (Show more)
This talk critically explores the utility and role of activist research and how it can create pathways to justice for survivors of institutional childhood abuse. It draws on empirical research carried out in Northern Ireland and collaboration with the survivor-driven Panel of Experts on Redress. The paper argues that power remains out of the hands of survivors and those tra¬ditionally marginalized in society. The question this talk seeks to address is: what is the role and utility of activist scholarship in challenging and/or rectifying this power imbalance? The paper begins with an analysis of activist research principles, methodology and debates. While conscious of the danger in over-eulogising activist research, the author argues that activist research has transformative potential. It can be used as a tool to create spaces to enable survivors to mobilise more effectively to challenge power. Examples are used to show how activist research facilitated survivors voice, challenged powerful institutions, and brought about change to redress legislation. However, when challenging powerful institutions, the odds are usually stacked against activists. Research is not simply received and acted upon. There is frequently resistance. Powerful institutions are usually seen as ‘the authoritative voice’ and have considerable resources at their disposal. In contrast, survivors run campaigns on shoestring budgets and rely on the goodwill of volunteer activists. Lessons for practice are that for survivors to be able to fully participate in collaborative activist research they require resources and adequate capacities for deep engagement. In developing strategies and tactics, it is crucial to build relationships and alliances and to collaborate with others (national and international). The key lesson for practice is that from the outset survivors should be fully involved in the decision-making, design, and implementation of redress measures to meet their needs. Here lies the challenge and (predictable) power struggle with state actors. (Show less)

Sarah Smed : Sharing Painful Memories to Support Positive Change
A few months after an official apology was given in public by the Danish prime minister in 2019 to care-leavers, who as children experienced neglect and abuse while in institutional care in Denmark, the Danish social minister made public that another national investigation was needed. This time it was the ... (Show more)
A few months after an official apology was given in public by the Danish prime minister in 2019 to care-leavers, who as children experienced neglect and abuse while in institutional care in Denmark, the Danish social minister made public that another national investigation was needed. This time it was the institutionalized specialized care system from 1933-1980 for children, young people and adults with physical and / or mental disabilities, that was subject to a historical investigation.

In early 2020 it was made public that The Danish Welfare Museum was given the task of investigating the conditions in the institutions on the basis on both archival studies and oral history interviews. Two years later we handed in the report - proving a ray of cases connected to abusive and dehumanizing treatment in state care. Most of the people sharing their personal stories were senior citizens with disabilities, who in the late 1940s to early 1960s experienced an institutionalized childhood. Often leaving them estranged from their families and subject to abuse and neglect. As adults the memories of their childhood are still vivid. As Hanne, who was in care from 1959-1966, described it: “We are marked by it. It's something that happened in our childhood, but the hard feelings and memories come back when we talk about it.” While writing this it is still undecided whether another official apology will be given.

When asked why they had decided to share their painful memories for the investigation, almost all of care-leavers stated that it was to strengthen contemporary societal understanding and prevent similar experiences for others. In my presentation I will present some of the investigation’s key findings and discuss: 1) its’ connections to other experience based social justice and activist initiatives regarding contemporary conditions within the field of specialized care. 2) the possibilities and challenges for people with lived experiences from specialized care institutions in engaging in activism (compared to care-leavers from e.g., orphanages). 3) the dilemmas embedded in carrying out national inquiries whilst being an activist museum initiative. (Show less)

Danny Taggert : Survivor Activism, Identity and Therapeutic Approaches to Participation in Child Abuse Inquiries
Historically, many survivor accounts of child abuse have been met with societal disbelief. The ‘Psy’ disciplines of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis have enacted this disbelief through scientific frameworks that have served to undermine the validity of survivor experience, disregarding them as evidence of pathology, the result of false memories, or ... (Show more)
Historically, many survivor accounts of child abuse have been met with societal disbelief. The ‘Psy’ disciplines of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis have enacted this disbelief through scientific frameworks that have served to undermine the validity of survivor experience, disregarding them as evidence of pathology, the result of false memories, or internal fantasy. It is therefore progress when the testimony and activism of survivors in non-recent child abuse inquiries is met with epistemic validation, and a therapeutic language around the importance of belief, acknowledgement and truth. In this paper, I will present examples from non-recent, institutional child abuse inquiries that encourage survivor participation in quasi-therapeutic terms. I will present some evidence from an inquiry in England and Wales that supports the therapeutic potential of participation. However, it is problematic to frame survivor activism in purely therapeutic terms and to promote participation in inquiries as leading to positive change for individuals. I am interested in thinking about the ways that survivor identities, formed through inquiry participation and activism, can place the burden of responsibility for social change on survivors and inscribe a form of fixed identity that can undermine other identities that move beyond abuse experiences. By linking to trauma theory, I will discuss how survivor activists being positioned as agents of change can lead to them carrying an emotional burden and responsibility for societal change, without access to the requisite social power and material resources. This can paradoxically leave survivors being ‘stuck in’ abuse experiences again, undermining the therapeutic intentions of inquiries. The paper will conclude with a discussion what trauma theory can offer survivor activists trying to negotiate complex and contradictory messages through engagement with child abuse inquiries (Show less)

Katie Wright : Mobilising for Justice: Survivor Activism Against Institutional Child Abuse
This paper explores activism against institutional child abuse and examines the ways in which victim-survivors became leading voices for social change. Activism is understood as an expression of civic and political participation in which grassroots dissent against injustice is mobilised with the aim of enacting social reform. The paper begins ... (Show more)
This paper explores activism against institutional child abuse and examines the ways in which victim-survivors became leading voices for social change. Activism is understood as an expression of civic and political participation in which grassroots dissent against injustice is mobilised with the aim of enacting social reform. The paper begins by providing some contextual background to the emergence of institutional child abuse as a social issue. Emerging findings from a new Australian Research Council funded project on activism and child rights are then discussed as the paper explores key strategies and goals that activists and advocates have articulated through social and traditional media. Several different strands of activist strategy and focus are identified – and the temporal dimensions are explored. These include individual testimony and narratives of abuse (i.e. an account of what happened in the past), which have been critical. Drawing on theories of activist mobilisation and identity construction, the paper explores how identity influences activist strategies and the extent to which therapy culture and other social shifts over the last two decades have laid the foundation for these types of public disclosure – both in relation to the willingness of people to speak out and the receptiveness of wider communities to hear such difficult stories. The paper suggests that while identity as a victim-survivor has been an important component of movements for historical justice, it is the dual nature of future-oriented social reform for safer childhoods and the provision of justice for past wrongs that fuels activists and advocacy efforts in this domain. (Show less)



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