The Imagined ‘Child’ Behind Children’s Rights in Lima, Peru: A Politics of Constructed and Contested Relationships

  • Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) instituted a ‘child rights’ discourse within bi-lateral, multi-lateral and non-governmental development organizations. Through in-depth field work with a range of Peruvian actors, this thesis examines the practical outcomes of this discourse for poor children, and asks what the dynamics of the adoption and implementation of a child rights agenda in Peru reveal about policy-making processes. The status of children in Peru is more visible as a result of the emergence of a robust children’s rights discourse. Yet what does imagining children as rights-bearing subjects mean for the transformation of child well-being through public policy? My broad engagement with a range of perspectives in Lima, Peru with representatives from national ministries, NGO directors, policy administrators, international organization representatives, social movement groups in civil society, academics, field workers, and a group of children in a marginalized neighbourhood -- revealed a host of contesting narratives about children and their rights. This contestation of narratives and perspectives is often described in terms of contradiction or even a ‘gap’ between concepts and practices. By contrast, this project uses the variety of ways in which subjects imagine rights as an intellectual resource for investigating the power that policy frameworks have to obscure or promote certain kinds of political demands. This dissertation argues that greater attention is needed towards the imagined ‘subjects’ present in the policy-making process, along with matched attention towards the framing, policies and material outcomes that emerge from those imaginings. Ultimately, it suggests that contestation and pluralism provide traction for the making of better policy. This thesis emphasizes the interpretation of rights, how children are imagined in policy, and the ways those ideas are implemented into practice, which becomes important in terms of material differences in children’s lives.
Date of Award1 Oct 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSarah White (Supervisor)

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