Children living out of suitcases – from the subsidiary state to the privatization of unprivileged childhood

Lecture by Anna Krawczak

After the lecture, we will have a discussion. The meeting will be held on Zoom. Registration required (open until 28.04.2021) via the application form on our website. We will e-mail the link to the meeting to registered participants. We are planning live streaming of Facebook. The meeting will be recorded and archived on our YouTube channel and in Resources on Biennale website. To protect your image, we ask you to keep your cameras and microphones off during the entire event. But we do encourage you to join the discussion and send us questions on the chat. The moderators  will ask them on your behalf.

Over 60,000 children in Poland are raised outside their families of origin, and most of them have unregulated legal status: parental rights of their parent’s are limited or suspended, but not entirely taken away. This is because the role of the state toward the family is a subsidiary one – the state is supposed to support the family, but not to take away the responsibility for the children from their parents, including their responsibility with regard to education and care. Public surveys indicate that over 80 per cent of Poles are convinced that family is the most important value in life, and crucial for self-realization.

At the same time, in 2019, the number of children covered by the Polish “Blue Card” procedure due to them being subjected to domestic violence amounted to 11,787, and only 2.4 per cent of minors from this group were secured outside of families as a result of police interventions. So what is the relationship between a child, their adult guardian and the state in Poland today? Where are the lines between family as a private space where the right to family and private life is respected, and the autonomy of the child as a citizen who has the right to be protected by the state represented by public institution? What is modern family and in what modalities can it function: genetic identity, biological continuity, social function, emotional relationship? Finally: what are the practices of state intervention in the family and what status is assigned in this practices to children? Are they subjects, citizens, biological property, or perhaps mobile objects?