Shaping Subjectivity

Locating the Agency of Bolivian Working Children in Narrative Practices

In: European Review of International Studies
Nadine Benedix Department of History and Social Sciences, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany

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Working children are commonly not considered as active political subjects. Yet, many of them have organised themselves as local groups that cooperate across borders. As a transnational network, they advocate for a right to work and political participation. In ir, these actors were accurately analysed as ‘governed’ actors proactively engaging in (inter-)national norm dynamics. Yet, their situatedness in local and global power relations (shaped by colonialism) remains understudied. Analysing how working children in Bolivia discursively shape their subjectivity in such hierarchical processes, it is argued that their norm engagement is intertwined with how they are situated in this context. Looking beyond proactive norm engagement, the paper argues for a broader conceptual understanding of the ‘agency of the governed’ in norm dynamics emerging in narrative practices. Special emphasis is placed on how working children in Bolivia (re)create their subjectivity through everyday practices interacting with institutional, material, and social structures which in turn are embedded within broader narrative frameworks.

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