A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
On Equal Terms? : On Implementing Infants’ Cultural Rights (2021)

Bonsdorff, P. V. (2021). On Equal Terms? : On Implementing Infants’ Cultural Rights. In E. Eriksen Ødegaard, & J. Spord Borgen (Eds.), Childhood Cultures in Transformation : 30 Years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Action towards Sustainability (pp. 37-53). Brill Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004445666_003

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Bonsdorff, Pauline von

Parent publication: Childhood Cultures in Transformation : 30 Years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Action towards Sustainability

Parent publication editors: Eriksen Ødegaard, Elin; Spord Borgen, Jorunn

ISBN: 978-90-04-43368-7

eISBN: 978-90-04-44566-6

Publication year: 2021

Pages range: 37-53

Number of pages in the book: 296

Publisher: Brill Sense

Place of Publication: Leiden

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004445666_003

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/73545


How can we implement infants’ cultural rights? Is there even reason to confer such rights to non-speaking children, or is it enough that we recognise slightly older children as culturally active individuals? Acknowledging children’s intellectual capacities and their right to be heard in matters that concern them are important threads in research on children and ideals of childrearing during the last hundred years. This development is parallel with the one leading from the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1923 to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The spirit of human rights that informs these documents cannot be underestimated. Yet reading the Convention carefully one observes that infants, literally “non-speakers”, are challenging in the discourse of human rights, which emphasises speech and language. What is an infant, then? While non-speakers, infants are highly social and communicative, using their whole body in multimodal, active and responsive gestures. This is often overlooked in both research and practices, as I show in my chapter. Instead of noticing the similarities between infants and adults, infants still tend to be represented as different and “other”, as compared to the adult. I suggests that we need a more holistic approach, which does justice to infants’ playful, interactive and affectionate initiatives. We need to be sensitive not just to what is generalizable, but also to particular contexts, situations and cultures of interaction. This way it might be possible to better acknowledge and cater for infants’ cultural rights.

Keywords: children's rights; cultural rights; child's status; babies; child development; cognitive development; language development; social interaction; nonverbal communication; imitation (behaviour); playing (children's games); aesthetics

Free keywords: children’s cultural rights; infant communication; infant aesthetics; play; imitation theory; copycat babies

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:04