The first comprehensive, book-length study of its kind,Conquistadores de la Callepresents the findings of nearly two years of ethnographic research on the streets of Guatemala City, toppling conventional wisdom that the region's youth workers are solely victims, or that their labor situations are entirely the result of poverty and family breakdown.
Documenting the voices and experiences of the city's working children, this fascinating study reveals counterintuitive motivations for those who choose to abandon schooling in favor of participating more fully in their families' economies. The processes of developing skills and planning for their social and economic futures are covered in depth, presenting evidence that many members of this population operate well above survival level and are decidedly not marginalized or members of an underclass.Conquistadores de la Callealso makes important distinctions between these young workers-a generation of Maya and Ladino boys and girls-and the homeless children or gang youth who have been so much more widely studied.
Contextualizing a variety of data, ranging from detailed ethnographic portraits of the children's lives and the monthly income of children engaged in common street vocations (such as shining shoes or serving as porters) to educational histories and socialization activities, Thomas Offit has produced a rich trove of findings in a significant segment of urban economics that is tremendously important for anthropologists, Latin Americanists, and those interested in the lives and labors of children in the cities of the developing world.
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