Hidden Heads of Households: Child Labor in Urban Northeast Brazil
Published: January 2007© 2007
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 144 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
144 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
In the cities of Northeast Brazil where 50 per cent of the population lives in poverty, children play a key role in the local economy—in their households, in formal jobs, and in the thriving informal sector (washing cars, shining shoes, scavenging for recyclables, etc.). Why children migrate to the city, how they negotiate their existence, and why they stay are just some of the questions addressed in this fascinating study.
Mary Kenny spent close to 15 years in the urban areas of Northeast Brazil talking with and interviewing children. She even gave them disposable cameras to document their daily lives (many of the photographs they took are included). Rather than lament a lost childhood, or try to save these children, Kenny explores some of the complex conditions under which these children work and live. She illustrates how unrelenting scarcity shapes family and, by extension, children's options, decisions, and worldviews.
The issues raised in this book are of critical importance. There are no easy answers, but listening to how these children define themselves and their circumstances is an important step towards understanding and ultimately solving economic and social inequality.
2. Researching Child Labor
3. Situating Poor Childhoods
5. Work and School in Urban Brazil
6. Street Children in Northeast Brazil
Appendix A: Sample Survey
Appendix B: Organizations that Address the Issue of Child Labor
An outstanding ethnographic analysis of labor across the generations in a globalizing urban population: Kenny treats the often taboo topic of child labor with clear-eyed perception and a bracing lack of sentimentality.Barbara J. Price, Columbia University
This is a book that, without becoming cumbersome, offers a nuanced view of children's work in a Brazilian shantytown. Starting from children's own perspectives, Kenny skilfully teases out the complexity of young people's lives as they develop in a context of structural violence. In-depth ethnography, the use of extensive quotes, and pictures taken by the children themselves make this book an excellent introduction to the subject matter.Olga Nieuwenhuys, University of Amsterdam
This is an excellent book for undergraduate anthropology classes, and should encourage students to empathize with plights of the underprivileged. Instructors will find the book useful in encouraging discussion of human rights, poverty, applied anthropology, and development, as well as child labor. [...] I highly recommend this focused, readable, moving study.Margaret Dorazio-Migliore, General Anthropology