Kristen Cheney

Kristen Cheney

Associate Professor, Children & Youth Studies

Let’s make families stronger, not ‘better’ orphanages, for children.

Dr. Cheney will discuss how her work led her to study the growth of the Orphan Industrial Complex and its adverse effects on children, families, communities, and child protection systems. She will explain how you can avoid being exploited by the OIC for orphan tourism and suggest ways to better protect and serve children abroad.


Dr. Cheney’s research deals with children’s survival strategies amidst difficult circumstances and the politics of humanitarian intervention for such children, mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa. Her book, Crying for Our Elders: African Orphanhood in the Age of HIV/AIDS(2017, University of Chicago Press) draws on youth participatory ethnographic research with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to examine issues of social exclusion, policy, and protection for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Her most recent research examines the impact of the global ‘orphan industrial complex’—including orphan tourism, childcare institutions, and intercountry adoption—on children and child protection in developing countries.

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