Negotiating the child record
When adult care-leavers read their own child records, they often become frustrated, not able to recognize or identify with the child described. Some speak of their wish to negotiate the records’ wording and to challenge the narrative and concepts of “truth”. The seminar will discuss the potentials and limitations of the child record both as historical source and as an emancipatory strategy. It will examine how such a negotiation of the record take place, what it consists of, and what the implications and potentials are – both for historians and care-leavers. The talk is based on in-depth analysis of seven Danish careleavers ‘journeys’ of accessing, reading, replying and reflecting on their child record. Our understanding of the child records has consequences for the way we are able to write the history of institutionalized childhood, and in the ways we as a society can assist adult care-leavers in their effort to “make sense of the past”.
Sarah Smed is Head of Outreach, Learning, Exhibitions and Communication at the Danish Welfare Museum. Since 2011 she has initiated and is now managing the museum’s outreach programmes, new exhibitions and experimental uses of the museum. Sarah is currently working with university researchers and formerly placed children (care leavers) to investigate how museums can be sites of social benefit for them. In 2013 she was awarded for ‘Outstanding project’ from the European Commission for the youth camp ‘Beat Poverty’. In 2015 she was awarded for the exhibition ‘Poverty across time’ from the Cultural Region of Funen.
Co-producing The Danish Welfare Museum
During the last decade The Danish Welfare Museum has continuously strived to explore and identify new ways to expand the ways in which more voices and thus more nuances can be part of the history of the welfare state. The research project “Welfare Stories from the Edge of Society” embodies this desire to establish a new kind of social history with a focus on social justice through a close collaboration with care leavers. Based on two specific participatory initiatives “Memory Mondays” and “Panel of Experience” this talk will present and discuss the inherent potential of co-producing the history of the institutionalized of the welfare state in a museological context and also discuss some of the ethical dilemmas which have appeared in the museum’s efforts in creating social activism and social justice the later years.
Jacob Knage Rasmussen is a curator at the Danish Welfare Museum. In 2010-2011 he was a part of the first Danish inquiry on child abuse and neglect in institutions or children´s homes “The Godhavn Inquiry”, and the “In care, In history” research project on the history of vulnerable groups in Denmark from 1945 to 1980. He is currently working on his PhD thesis, at the University of Southern Denmark, The Department of History.