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When People Come FirstCritical Studies in Global Health$
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João Biehl and Adriana Petryna

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157382

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157382.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Children as Victims

Children as Victims

The Moral Economy of Childhood in the Times of AIDS

(p.109) 4 Children as Victims
When People Come First

Didier Fassin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the politics of childhood in the context of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. It employs the concept of “moral economy” to address the ways in which the tragedy of orphanhood became crystallized as a notion; the constellation of moral sentiments within which it has become entangled; the political debates in which orphanhood has been deployed and transformed; and the interventions that have relied on it as an orienting principle. It proposes to consider moral economies as “the production, distribution, circulation, and utilization of moral sentiments, emotions and values, norms and obligations in the social space.” Understood in this way, moral economy is constructed around social issues, such as immigration, violence, poverty—and childhood—in particular historical contexts. The chapter explores the interface between the global circulation and utilization of moral sentiments with regard to children, and their local production and distribution, as part of a larger project of a moral history of the present focused on “humanitarian reason.” The politics of childhood is particularly relevant to our understanding of humanitarianism—its aspirations and its contradictions.

Keywords:   HIV, AIDS, South Africa, global health, moral economy, childhood, humanitarianism

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