Volume 8 Issue 1 - August 6, 2014
Special Issue on Children and Childhoods in Latin America
Children's Institutionalisation Under Question: Polices, Discourses and Practices in Argentina’s Child Protection System
In recent years, child protection policies in Argentina have undergone multiple reformulations. In 2005, the Congress passed a law modifying the system of child protection. This law, inspired by the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, establishes that separating children from their families should be a measure of last resort, and that family environment should be preferred over institutional care. However, in the city of Buenos Aires, there exist few policies to strengthen and support families in difficulty, and foster care programmes are non-existent. Without seeking to assess whether or not the new law is applied correctly, this paper analyses the various arguments raised by practitioners of children's protection agencies to prevent child institutionalisation, and examines the impact of these practices on the lives of children and their families.
Imagining, Appropriating and Silencing:Street-working children’s Strategies of Home-making in Public and Private Space
In this article I tackle two related and often held assumptions: the first being that children are ‘out of place’ when not in the private sphere and second that home is necessarily related to the private sphere. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork among street-working children in Cusco, Peru, I explore the differences between place-making and home-making and I show that children engage in active processes of home-making, both in a very limited private sphere and in the public sphere. This process is characterised by the creation of belonging, by active appropriation and contestation of space, by relations with related and non-related others, and by over-emphasis on positive emotions. This process of home-making shows that children are neither ‘out of place’ nor ‘out of childhood’ when they are in public space and that home can also be made outside the contours of private space.
On the lower reaches of the Tapajós river, children play an important role in the productive activities of their communities. As in so many other oral tradition societies, the competence required for these activities is not acquired by following explicit verbal instructions- which characterize formal school education- but through observation and cooperation (Lancy, 2010; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Pierrot, 2011; Rogoff, 2003). However, in contrast with other cultural contexts where children’s participation is encouraged, or at least tolerated, Tapajós river children who do not master a certain activity are kept away from it. Their participation, though crucial to family production, occurs only to the extent that adults consider children can “actually deliver” (garante) a fully competent performance in the given activity. The folk saying “you learn from your mistakes” is thus very distant from the local reality. This paper will examine these apparently paradoxical relations, by means of ethnographic description and analysis of local practices.
Going to Churches of the Evangelio: Children’s Perspectives of Religion in an Indigenous Urban Setting in Buenos Aires
The aim of this article is to reconstruct children’s perspectives on religion and to analyze them in the context of their participation in social practices (such as family transmission, peer and sibling relationships, and practices within the evangelical neighborhood’s churches and a catholic school). For my research, I use an ethnographic approach along with other methods and fieldwork techniques. These are usually used in the anthropology of childhood, as are certain psychological approaches to children’s perspectives, which have become fundamental strategies for approaching children’s voices and practices. To critically analyze the link between religious and ethnic identifications, I contemplated methodological and epistemological issues. By considering the ways children build their own perspectives on social processes in which they are involved, I will focus on how Toba children construct the meaning of the Evangelio as a religious movement over time (Evangelio literally means “Gospel” in Spanish).
Spirit Possession has been regarded as a cross-cultural phenomenon by many scholars in different parts of the world. The question is how do people who experience Spirit Possession perceive it and how do the mediums make sense of it. Inspired by Márcio Goldman’s work, this paper argues that, for Candomblé people, Spirit Possession is a given. To affirm this, I will examine how children playing at Ritual Possession can be part of the process of constituting meanings of spirit possession. I make use of Márcio Goldman’s model of idea of the person (1984) and of his draw of an ontology of Candomblé (2005), and Christina Toren’s (1999, 2012) unified model of mind to analyse ethnographic data from five years of research on Candomblé in a Brazilian terreiro (temple).