Emily Hoffman

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10310

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Hoffman, Emily (Columbia U.) "Other People's Children: The Meanings of Child Protection in Eastern Oklahoma"

Each year in the United States, over 3 million alleged incidents of child abuse and neglect are investigated by state child protection agencies; the families investigated are primarily poor, and disproportionately Black and Native. My research addresses itself to the local iteration of the child welfare bureaucracy in Eastern Oklahoma, a geography in which intergenerational inheritance, in both its material and psychic valences, has come into sharp focus in recent years, as the Supreme Court ruled that much of Eastern Oklahoma falls within the undissolved boundaries of the reservations of the Five Tribes (McGirt v. Oklahoma, 2020), and as the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has sparked local and national conversations about Black dispossession and reparation. My project situates the interventions of the child protection system, whose modern history coincides with welfare state retrenchment, and which relies on the distributed surveillance of mandated reporters’teachers, doctors, social workers, neighbors, kin, and strangers’, within this historical geography. The aim of my project is to explore the way that the bureaucratic and legal category of ‘child abuse and neglect’ secrets within it histories of dispossession, polyvalent conceptualizations of history as trauma, and negotiations about the right to care.