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Child protection in the Americas : a historical problematization of the present : the case of the Inter-American Children’s Institute (1916-1989)


The main goal of this doctoral thesis is to understand the processes that have led to child protection becoming a social problem in the Americas. We approach this subject through the description and the analysis of the history of the Inter-American Children's Institute between 1916 and 1989. This study is based on a specific corpus of documents the Institute’s proceedings and newsletters, considered from a genealogical perspective with a special emphasis on the historic reality of the social contexts of production of these documents. The Institute, as a case study, allows us to pose numerous questions, which serve as a basis for this research: how have discourses that have reclaimed (at least temporarily) a value of truth regarding infancy been produced in the Americas? How have these discourses collaborated in the construction of a specific domain of knowledge and action called “child protection”? In which ways has this domain appeared in a specific International organism? What processes and mechanisms support the process of institutionalization at a transnational level? Who were the main actors in this process? What kind of relationships did they establish among themselves? What parts of the representations and the practices that they conducted persisted and what parts were discontinued? What were their goals and motivations? We seek to articulate a historical problematization of the present around these issues. This methodological exercise stems from the interest in a reconsideration of the conditions of emergence of the regime of children’s rights, inaugurated with the ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

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