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‘A troublesome girl is pushed through’: Morality, biological determinism, resistance, resilience, and the Canadian child migration schemes, 1883–1939

Sims-Schouten, W; (2021) ‘A troublesome girl is pushed through’: Morality, biological determinism, resistance, resilience, and the Canadian child migration schemes, 1883–1939. History of the Human Sciences 10.1177/09526951211036553. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article critically analyses correspondence and decisions regarding children/young people who were included in the Canadian child migration schemes that ran between 1883 and 1939, and those who were deemed ‘undeserving’ and outside the scope of the schemes. Drawing on critical realist ontology, a metatheory that centralises the causal non-linear dynamics and generative mechanisms in the individual, the cultural sphere, and wider society, the research starts from the premise that the principle of ‘less or more eligibility’ lies at the heart of the British welfare system, both now and historically. Through analysing case files and correspondence relating to children sent to Canada via the Waifs and Strays Society and Fegan Homes, I shed light on the complex interplay between morality, biological determinism, resistance, and resilience in decisions around which children should be included or excluded. I argue that it was the complex interplay and nuance between the moral/immoral, desirable/undesirable, degenerate, and capable/incapable child that guided practice with vulnerable children in the late 1800s. In judgements around ‘deservedness’, related stigmas around poverty and ‘bad’ behaviour were rife. Within this, the child was punished for his/her ‘immoral tendencies’ and ‘inherited traits’, with little regard for the underlying reasons (e.g. abuse and neglect) for their (abnormal) behaviour and ‘mental deficiencies’.

Type: Article
Title: ‘A troublesome girl is pushed through’: Morality, biological determinism, resistance, resilience, and the Canadian child migration schemes, 1883–1939
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/09526951211036553
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/09526951211036553
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: biological determinism, child migration schemes, critical realism, morality, resilience
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Arts and Sciences (BASc)
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135624
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