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Thursday, December 12, 2013: Childhood & Youth Studies: Heidbrink


Available for download as audio or podcast video.

Q&A

Available for download as audio or podcast video.

Collisions of Debt and Interest: Youth Negotiations of (In)debt(ed) Migration and the Best Interests of the Child

Childhood and Youth Studies Across the Disciplines IAS Research Collaborative presents Lauren Heidbrink, Anthropology, National Louis University – Chicago

CYS children in a protestAmidst a shift from the state’s enforcement and surveillance of the migrant Other to civil society’s disciplining of bodies, discourses of care have emerged particularly around efforts to humanize the detention of migrant children. If apprehended by ICE, the state, civil society and families enter into complex negotiations surrounding the care and custody of the child, each staking, at times contradictory, claims to the child’s best interests. By tracing the tensions between diverging assessment of best interests rooted in cultural conceptions of childhood and youth, agency, rights, and obligation, Heidbrink argues that Guatemalan-Maya youth are dismissed as economic actors and therefore, neither benefit from existing forms of legal relief under immigration law nor from specialized provisions afforded to children in other areas of U.S. law. Upon closer examination, the ways debt and repayment are structured in communities in Guatemala complicate over-simplified tropes of victim and economic actor as well as assessments of a youth’s eligibility for legal status in the U.S. From fieldwork in U.S. detention facilities for children and in Guatemala with repatriated youth and their families, Heidbrink examines the social imaginary of the repatriated youth and how youth and their families negotiate social and financial indebtedness with institutional actors both at “home” and abroad. The tension between the international principle of best interests of the child, the deportation regime, and (in)debtedness in Guatemala traps youth in untenable CYS children with flagsituations that not only complicate their reintegration into Guatemalan social life but also reinforce circular migration.

Heidbrink explores the ways youth are caught at the intersection of competing interests of international, immigration, juvenile and family laws.

This talk occurred Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 3:30 p.m., in 235 Nolte Center.

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