Missing Children Publication Hub
The cultural nature of missing
(by Joe Apps)
The notions of trying to define 'missing' and 'missingness' are fascinating. Many people, who are reported to authorities as being missing by family and friends, do not consider themselves as missing persons; when found, they are surprised that they have been considered as 'missing'. Adults have rights to do as they please and also the right to be forgotten. There are responsibilities for many, parents for example, but also health, education and policing services as well as the state to safeguard the young and the vulnerable. In the first instance there is the local and personal nature of missing as it applies to the missing person and their families and loved ones. Then there is a definition applied by authorities to missing - this definition may vary within countries and nation states. Following these 'regional' interpretations, there are national and political considerations around missing (see Edkins, J. Missing: Persons and Politics. (2011) New York: Cornell University Press). Lastly, it may be possible to determine differences in missing and missingness across cultures. Defining culture is going to be problematic, but it could include definitions based on, for example, a European, a Scandinavian, a South Asian or an American culture. How does culture change the nature of missing and missingness - is culture about a sense of belonging to a group of nations or is it state-generated, police-generated or defined by families and communities.
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