denied childhood; Ticino; Border Cantons; foreign minors; Fremdplatzierung; Valais
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The project aims to analyse the processes and dynamics that led two border cantons, Valais and Ticino, to manage compulsory social measures and placements (Fremdplatzierungen) of Swiss and foreign minors in either their cantonal territory or bordering provinces in Italy between the 1940s and the 1970s. The institutions and groups involved were: •the Cantons of Valais and Ticino and their respective municipalities;•the Swiss Confederation, in regard to the laws of management of migrant minors;•Italy, in regard to the management of its migrant minors and the institutions funded on its territory in areas bordering Switzerland;•the local authorities in the cantons and Italian border regions;•the Catholic Church, which managed most of the institutions on both sides of the border;•the supervisors of the institutions;•minors’ advocacy groups; and•private childcare organisations (e.g. Pro Juventute and the Red Cross).The project will reconstruct the placement system for minors in this geographical area, from the 1940s - the beginning of Switzerland’s economic boom, the professionalization of its social sector and its demographic transformation - to the economic crisis of the mid-1970s. The key research questions are the following: •How did social, political and institutional differences between the two cantons affect the placement of foreign minors? What were the differences in the German- and French-speaking regions of Valais?•How did economic factors influence the decisions of both cantons, which still had poor and rural areas?•What role did religious issues in these cantons, both Catholic, play in institutions’ decisions regarding where to place children?•How did the rules and procedures followed for Swiss minors influence the ways in which these institutions managed foreign minors?•What relationships did cantonal institutions maintain with Italian ones? Did Switzerland place orphans and other children in Italian institutions between 1940 and 1975, as had happened in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?In order to address these issues, the following analyses will be conducted:•a quantitative and qualitative reconstruction of the phenomenon and a typology of the institutions involved (e.g. institutions, orphanages, juvenile prisons);•an identification of the status (civil, criminal, economic, health, citizenship) of the children involved and the treatment processes accorded them depending on their status;•a reconstruction of the minors’ status during the placement period as a result of compulsory, semi-compulsory and/or voluntary strategies;•an analysis of organisational dynamics (management logics and internal and external legitimation strategies);•an analysis of changes in the institutions’ practices over time.The study will use a social history methodology comprised of techniques from the field of Global history in conjunction with analytical tools and concepts from the social sciences. Retracing the history of the placement system in Valais, Ticino and Italian border regions requires focusing on not only the victims of this system, but also the institutions and groups involved at multiple levels (cantonal and local levels, churches, families, children, etc.) and at different scales of analysis, as well as on the provided and perceived representation of the phenomenon. The history of placement itself will be read and interpreted as a global key. The story to be narrated is that of those who lived the phenomenon, but also of those who managed it; it is the story of places and borders, and of how communities and societies were affected and transformed.