Between care and control? Orphan geographies in the Russian Federation

Disney, Tom (2015). Between care and control? Orphan geographies in the Russian Federation. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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While many countries in the West have been broadly pursing policies of deinstitutionalisation since the latter half of the 20th Century, orphanages remain the norm for many countries. Orphanage research has often tended to be conducted through a bio-psychological lens, and there remains little qualitative research to reveal the nuances of micro-scale practices taking place within these institutions. This thesis employs a multi-sited ethnography and explores the orphanage as a complex institution influenced by Soviet and Post-Soviet practices of childcare. In particular, this research draws upon an ethnography conducted in an orphanage for children with severe intellectual disabilities. The thesis considers the multiscalar nature of this institution and explores childhood mobilities, agency and elements of discipline and control within the institution, destabilising the notion of the orphanage as an environment of care.

This research addresses significant empirical lacunae in human geography and studies of post-socialism through an ethnographic study of Russia's disability orphanages. This research also challenges understandings of mobility in children's geographies by drawing upon theories of coerced and disciplined mobility. Finally, in highlighting the vulnerability of these children, this thesis develops the concept of 'contingent agency' to provide a more nuanced understanding of agency in children's geographies.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


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