Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Appeals of childhood: Child vendors, volunteer tourists, and visions of aid in Cusco, Peru
by Sinervo, Aviva, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2011, 450; 3471816
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation, Appeals of Childhood: Child Vendors, Volunteer Tourists, and Visions of Aid in Cusco, Peru, examines the realms of child labor, children's assistance, and volunteer tourism, focusing on how encounters between local children and foreign tourists complicate and rework commonly held assumptions about children, childhood, poverty, work, and assistance. Interactions between children and tourists are productive of affective, as well as economic value, yet these two values come into conflict even as they are also inextricably entangled and mutually reinforcing. I analyze the work of child vendors in the streets as they sell souvenirs to foreign tourists; the work of volunteer tourists who staff and fund children's after-school centers that provide aid for Cusco's poor children; and the work of the directors who run such state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I argue that tensions between economy and affect prompt participants to struggle with a range of moral dilemmas. These include determining the conditions for building relationships, engaging in ethical forms of tourist consumption and practice, contesting stereotypes about children's work and poverty, negotiating conflicting legal boundaries around childhood and informal economy, and accessing social support for poor children.

The research for this dissertation entailed 17 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cusco, Peru with children, tourists, parents, aid workers, police officers, and volunteer coordinators. I suggest that child labor, children's assistance, and volunteer tourism are kinds of moral economies. They are spheres where economic goals come into conflict with emotionally-laden desires for connection, intimacy, affection, and collaboration. On the other hand, I also contend that the ways in which Cusqueño children creatively present themselves—both capitalizing on sentiments about childhood and poverty, and challenging perceptions of their vulnerability and marginalization—encourage us to interrogate the separation between economy and affect.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Anderson, Mark D.
School: University of California, Santa Cruz
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Labor economics, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Child labor, Child vendors, International aid, Poverty, Street vendors, Visions of aid, Volunteer tourists
Publication Number: 3471816
ISBN: 978-1-124-84455-8
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