Postdoc in Contemporary History: The Centre International de l’Enfance (1949-1997) and the transnational origins of social paediatrics

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    Université d'Angers
    HistoryContemporary history
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    03/07/2020 13:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › Angers


Université d’Angers (UA) is looking for excellent postdoctoral researchers from outside France for building together innovative aplications for independant research fellowships through the mobility programme Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions - European Fellowships to the next call (09 September 2020). MSCA-EF are prestigious fellowships funded by the European Commission.
They offer a rare opportunity to talented scientists: the chance to set up research programmes of their own. They provide an attractive grant for 1 to 2 years including salaries (around 2500€ net per month, with social care included) and allowances for mobility, family and research.
The deadline of submission to the European commission is on 09th September 2020; details on the call for proposal MSCA-EF webpage (the date may be subject to changes due to the current COVID-19 situation)

The topic and team below have been identified for welcoming you to develop your research project at UA and helping you to write a persuasive proposal for the European submission in September.


General description of the project

Keywords: Child Studies, History, Social Paediatrics, Centre International de l’Enfance

Project context:

Internet data on "social paedriatics" and "social paedriatics" suggest that the concept was developed in the francophone space by Dr. Gilles Julien of Quebec in the 1990s and 2000s by promoting community-based social paediatrics. He says he was inspired by reading the book Social Paediatrics, edited by Bengts Lindstrom & Nick Spencer (Oxford University Press, 1995). The concept and practice would thus have spread from the Anglo-Saxon world to the Francophone world and very recently. However, it is interesting to note that the two editors of the Social Paedriatics summa entrusted Michel Manciaux with the task of defining social paediatrics. Indeed, the French doctor, former director of the Centre International de l'Enfance (CIE), was one of the best placed to evoke the origin and genealogy of this concept.

Created in 1949, in conjunction with UNICEF and WHO, by the French paediatrician Robert Debré (1882-1978), the CIE promoted, until its closure at the end of the 1990s, a child's health that took account of its environment. Moreover, social paediatrics appeared in French and Anglo-Saxon medical literature just after the Second World War in connection with the course of the same name given by Robert Debré in Paris from 1946 onwards. He defined social paediatrics as "all the collective efforts in favour of the young part of the population". According to him, family paediatrics is an individual effort while social paediatrics is a collective or public effort.

This little-known origin of social paediatrics deserves to be reconstructed in order to better understand the developments and current events in contemporary paediatrics. The genealogy of social paediatrics is inseparable from the history of the CIE, a very interdisciplinary organization, very French in some aspects, very transnational in others. The archives of the CIE, kept in the library of the University of Angers, are very rich and have been very little exploited. They contain the answers to many questions: how does the creation and development of the concept of social paediatrics, by definition very much linked to the context, relate to post-war reconstruction, the question of decolonization and development, the 1968s? What intellectual construction is needed to consider "the child as a whole" and to "scientificize" and medicalize the social issues of childhood and the family? Alongside the major specialized international organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO, through which networks is the CIE able to irrigate the space of the children's cause? Beyond this, it is also a question of understanding the link between the CIE, social paediatrics and the development of children's rights in the second half of the twentieth century. Finally, apart from the financial reasons for the closure of the CIE, how can we explain the disappearance of social paediatrics in the 1980s and 1990s?

This research project is based on established knowledge (in particular on the creation of the CIE, its functioning, its closure) but aims to create other, totally new ones, by studying in its historical depth an essential player in social paediatrics, i.e. a paediatrics open to the person that is the child placed back in his or her living environment.

 For an overview of the Centre international de l’Enfance and Social Paediatrics:

- Y. Denéchère et P. Marcilloux (dir.), Le Centre International de l’Enfance (19149-1997). Des archives à l’histoire, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016.
Présentation du livre par ses auteurs : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiDlJ64cEKk
Version openedition de l’ouvrage : https://books.openedition.org/pur/45161

- « Répondre aux besoins de l’enfant dans le monde : le Centre International de l’Enfance (1949-1997) », documentaire radio de La Fabrique de l’histoire, 13/06/2019.


- Exposition en ligne : « "L’enfance, ça nous regarde" » : regards sur le Centre international de l’enfance (1949-1996)




- Examination and analysis of the unpublished archives of the Centre International de l'Enfance (Library of the University of Angers)

- Identification and consultation of documentation relating to transnational associations of social paediatrics, ISSOP and ASSIPS in particular.

- Cross-referencing of these two main corpuses with secondary sources (archives of UNICEF, WHO, INSERM, etc.).

- Establishment of oral sources among retired paediatricians of the former ICE

- Valorization and dissemination of research to the health professional world in general and paediatrics in particular.


Scientific objectives:

The objectives of this project are (1) to reconstitute globally the genealogy of social paediatrics since 1945, particularly of its French-speaking branch, (2) to define the place and role of the different transnational actors in this history, and (3) to analyse precisely the contribution of the Centre international de l’Enfance in the development of social paediatrics.
This research is therefore situated at the crossroads of several historiographical fields: child studies, international organizations, public health, institutional and associative actors, etc.


Career Objectives:

-Innovative and specific know-how with new perspectives in terms of skills: with an ambitious and unprecedented research the post-doctoral researcher will be well positioned to apply for faculty positions in Childhood and Youth Studies, an expanding field at the university-level. S/He will also have the necessary skills to pursue public and private sector employment opportunities related to child and youth welfare: International consultant/specialist on children’s issues, for example at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti; permanent staff in NGOs or foundations; Children and youth national ministries or administrations.


Supervisor: Yves Denéchère

Academic position

Head of the CNRS laboratory TEMOS (Temps, mondes, sociétés, UMR 9016) university of Angers (http://temos.cnrs.fr).
Professor of contemporary history, University of Angers (http://blog.univ-angers.fr/yvesdenechere/)
Main topics: Child Studies; Children Rights; Care; International Organisations; Children migrations; transnational adoption


Scientific profile

As a specialist in the history of international adoption, I wrote the first synthesis for France and then became interested in the different forms of humanist and/or humanitarian commitments to children, particularly sponsorships. I am also working on the history of the displacement of children on a transnational scale in the context of decolonization, the construction of children's rights and the agency of children and young people.
All these research themes are part of the multidisciplinary research programme in Child Studies EnJeu[x] Enfance et jeunesse (http://enfancejeunesse.fr/) which I direct. My work on the Centre international de l’Enfance is based on the archives and library of the CIE kept at the University of Angers, which constitute very rich and unique resources. After the organization of a symposium (2014), I co-directed a collective work (2016) on this organization which is closely linked to UNICEF and WHO.

I have presented this research in several international conferences, including: Children's History Society's biennial conference, Greenwich, 2018; Annual Congress of the Society for French Historical Studies (SFHS), Montreal, 2014; International Standing Conference for History of Education (ISCHE), London 2014; and notably at the universities of Lausanne, Salamanca, Padova, Hanoi.

From 2017 to 2019 I was the supervisor of Luciana Jinga's H2020 MSCA Individual Fellowship project: "Gender and transnational commitment for children (Europe - 1980-2000)".


• Y. Denéchère et P. Marcilloux (dir.), Le Centre International de l’Enfance (19149-1997). Des archives à l’histoire, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016.
• Y. Denéchère, “Biopolitics, State, and Displacements of Children in France between the end of World War II and the Fall of Empire, 1945-1970” in B. Scutaru & S. Paoli (eds), Child Migration and Biopolitics. Old and New Experiences in Europe, London, Routledge, 2020, chapter 12.
• Y. Denéchère (ed.) Enjeux postcoloniaux de l’enfance et de la jeunesse. Espace francophone (1945-1980), Bruxelles, Peter Lang, collection Outre-Mers, 2019.
• Y. Denéchère, « Regulating a particular form of migration at the European level: the Council of Europe and intercountry adoptions (1950-1967) », Journal of European Integration History, special Issue, 2017, pp.77-90.
• Y. Denéchère, Des enfants venus de loin. Histoire de l’adoption internationale en France, Paris, Armand Colin, 2011p.

Exhaustive list of publications on: http://blog.univ-angers.fr/yvesdenechere/


More Information


MSCA-EF are prestigious fellowships funded by the European Commission.

They offer a rare opportunity to talented scientists: the chance to set up research programmes of their own. They provide an attractive grant for 1 to 2 years including salaries and allowances for mobility, family and research.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must be «Experienced Researchers» (i.e. by the time of the MSCA deadline (09 September 2020), be in possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience).

Applicants can be of any nationality but must not have spent more than 12 months in France in the 3 years immediately prior to MSCA deadline.

Selection process

We encourage all motivated post-docs to apply as early as possible and at least before the 3 July 2020. Your application will include :

- a CV including : (i) the exact date of your stay in each position and/or country and (ii) a list of publications;

- a research outline document (up to 2 pages) identifying the research synergies with the faculty members / pre-identified topics.

Following the reception of your application, we will check the eligibility of your profile for a MSCA-EF application. Then supervisor(s) will select the most promising applications regarding the excellence-based competitive conditions and evaluation criteria of the MSCA-EF program and contact them in due course (mid-July) for further discussions and proposal writing until September 2020. If funded, the project proposed in September 2020 could start from September 2021 onwards.

To be crystal clear, this is the responsibility of the fellow to develop and write his/her own application proposal, but the supervisor will be deeply involved in the co-writing of the proposal and you will also receive dedicated support from the European office to write a persuasive proposal in a continuous follow-up process.

Offer Requirements

    History: PhD or equivalent
    FRENCH: Excellent
    ENGLISH: Good

Specific Requirements

Publications: at least 1 per year since the PhD in 1st author

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Université d'Angers - Maison de la recherche Germaine Tillion
5bis bd Lavoisier

EURAXESS offer ID: 526251


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