Towards a relational ethics: Rethinking ethics, agency and dependency in research with children and youth

Meloni, F.; Vanthuyne, K.; Rousseau, C. (2015)

Anthropological Theory

15(1) | 106-123

While anthropologists have reflected on ethics and power since the late 1960s, the specific dilemmas that arise in research conducted with children and youth have scarcely been addressed. Nevertheless, critical anthropology’s reflections on power relations and reflexivity can valuably contribute to the interdisciplinary debate in the field of childhood studies, by complexifying categories of voice, dependency and agency, which are often taken for granted in the ethical conversation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with undocumented youth in Montreal, this article argues for the importance of a critical understanding of childhood within a wider context of interdependence, and consequently, for a redefinition of ethics as a reflexive and relational space of intersubjectivity.