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Childhood Studies Latin America
by
Tobias Hecht

Introduction

Children in Latin America have gradually come to attract the attention of researchers from a number of fields. Historians, for example, have examined the importance of the labor performed by children on the vessels that sailed to and from the Americas in the 16th century. Scholars of religion and history, for their part, have studied how children were used in the effort to implant the Catholic faith in the New World: The young were deemed apt for conversion, whereas adults often were not. Today, about 37 percent of Latin America’s population is age nineteen or under, and children work, study, worship, and have even been known to fight wars. Children are increasingly portrayed by scholars as integral parts of the larger sweep of history, economics, religion, and beyond. Emerging from diverse fields of the social sciences and humanities, the works in this bibliography attest to the growing importance of children in the study of Latin America. They also suggest how little explored childhood remains.

General Overviews

The general overviews come in various forms, and overlap between the texts discussed here is rare. Some of the sources concern contemporary Latin America and others the past; some address the private spaces of the home and family and still others institutions and public policy. For contemporary views, see Allsebrook and Swift 1989, the UNICEF website, and Green 1998. For readers of Spanish, Gonzalbo Aizpuru and Rabel 1994 on the family in the new world is unsurpassed for the care of its scholarship and the well-chosen subjects included; it also introduces readers to many of the best scholars in the field. Gónzalez and Premo 2007 is an excellent English-language introduction to the history of childhood in colonial Latin America. Lipsett-Rivera 1998, a special issue of the Journal of Family History, brings the reader into more recent history. Hecht 2002 can be read together with either of these with little risk of overlap. The lusophone reader will find that the review of the literature on childhood in Brazil by Alvim and Valladares 1988 directs one to many of the most interesting readings in the field. Sá 2007 depicts in broad strokes some of the characteristics of childhood in Portugal and the colonies between 1500 and 1800.

  • Allsebrook, Annie, and Anthony Swift. Broken Promise: The World of Endangered Children. London: Headway, 1989.

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    A spirited introduction to contemporary childhood in various regions of the world, including Latin America. Discusses street children, working children, child thieves, and child soldiers, among other topics. The book is imaginatively written and appropriate for students at the high school level but has the complexity to hold the interest of more advanced readers.

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  • Alvim, Maria Rosilene Barbosa, and Lícia do Prado Valladares. “Infância e sociedade no Brasil: Uma análise da literatura.” Boletim Informativo e Bibliográfico de Ciências Sociais: BIB 26.2 (1988): 3–37.

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    An intelligent and readable discussion of the literature on childhood in Brazil. The wide-ranging sources will set the student of childhood in Brazil on the right track, even though the article is dated.

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  • Gonzalbo Aizpuru, Pilar, and Cecilia Rabell, eds. La familia en el mundo iberoamericano. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1994.

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    An indispensible introduction to the history of the family in Latin America, edited by two luminaries, replete with the writings of other leading scholars in the field. While the book is not specifically about children, they are discussed throughout. Also see the editors’ excellent Familia y vida privada en la historia de Iberoamérica (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1996).

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  • González, Ondina A., and Bianca Premo, eds. Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    The “raising” and the “empire” in the book’s title receive almost equal attention: We see how children grew up and how they were participants in or victims of far larger enterprises. An impressive contribution toward our understanding of children as part of Latin American history. Appropriate for undergraduates and more advanced scholars.

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  • Green, Duncan. Hidden Lives: Voices of Children in Latin America and the Caribbean. London: Cassell, 1998.

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    Hidden Lives addresses child labor, street children, children’s rights, health, violence, and other topics—to the extent possible through the voices of children. The book is a useful point of entry.

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  • Hecht, Tobias, ed. Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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    An introduction to Latin American history and society through the lives of children. Contributors include historians, an anthropologist, an author of fiction, and a homeless Brazilian youth. Appropriate for undergraduates and more advanced scholars.

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  • Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya, ed. Special Issue: Children in the History of Latin America. Journal of Family History 23.3 (1998).

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    A collected work on the history of children in Latin America. The authors write on child circulation in Mexico City, child labor, and children and the welfare state, among other topics. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Sá, Isabel dos Guimarães. “Up and Out: Children in Portugal and the Empire (1500–1800).” In Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Edited by Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, 17–40. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    A study of children in Portugal between 1500 and 1800 by the author of the well-received A circulação de crianças na Europa do Sul (Lisboa, Portugal: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1995) The essay focuses on work, play, education, religion, and abandonment—a handful for a short piece but here skillfully juggled.

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  • UNICEF. “Unite for Children: Latin America and the Caribbean.”

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    A site abounding with statistics relating to children, links for UNICEF television and radio on demand, publications, podcasts, partner organizations, photo essays, and more. Statistics are usefully organized by country and relate to nutrition, mortality, education, HIV/AIDS, and beyond.

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Child Circulation and Kinship

Readers in this area will find agreement among scholars that kinship, far from being a narrow matter of consanguinity, is also something that is forged through informal adoptions, or child circulation (Cardoso 1984, Fonseca 1989), cohabitation, abandonment, and even royal decree. Guy 2000 examines the grounds on which fathers and mothers argued their right to custody and even absolute sovereignty over their children in late-19th- and early-20th-century Argentina. The portrayal of the putatively uncomplicated and felicitous way the races came to mix in Brazil does not have many adherents today, but it is also true that kinship formations can be surprisingly elastic, sometimes even across lines of race and class. Several pieces in this section treat abandonment; with an eye to its relationship to notions of race see Twinam 2007 and, for policy and ideas of family, Blum 1998. The conditions of foundling homes (González 2002, Salinas Meza 1991) is also a key concern. Smith 1956, about the Caribbean part of South America, advanced ideas that have not only stood the test of time but proven relevant for many parts of Latin America. Kuznesof 1989 offers a helpful review of the literature on family history up to the late 1980s.

  • Blum, Ann S. “Public Welfare and Child Circulation, Mexico City, 1877 to 1925.” In Special Issue: Children in the History of Latin America. Edited by Sonja Lipsett-Rivera. Journal of Family History 23.3 (1998): 240–271.

    DOI: 10.1177/036319909802300303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using the registers of three foundling homes, between 1877 and 1925, the author “traces practices shaping child circulation between the community and the public sphere and evolving law and policy.” The economic context that underlies admission and notions of family, motherhood, and childhood can be glimpsed in the records. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Cardoso, Ruth C. L. “Creating Kinship: The Fostering of Children in Favela Families in Brazil.” Translated by Elizabeth Hansen. In Kinship Ideology and Practice in Latin America. Edited by Raymond T. Smith, 196–203. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

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    Based on research with ten families in the favelas of São Paulo, this article, written by sociologist (and former first lady) Ruth Cardoso, examines filhos de criação, a term she translates as “children by socialization.” In particular she is concerned with how maternal instincts toward the progeny of others actually forge kinship ties.

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  • Fonseca, Claudia. “Pais e Filhos na Família Popular (Início do Século XX).” In Amor e família no Brasil. Edited by Maria Angela d’Incao, 95–128. São Paulo, Brazil: Contexto, 1989.

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    The research emerges from court cases involving children in Porto Alegre at the beginning of the 20th century. It suggests that child labor was widely accepted and that adults feuded over the rights to its fruits. Children circulated between various households as they grew up but did not necessarily have the same prerogatives as sons and daughters by blood.

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  • González, Ondina A. “Down and Out in Havana: Foundlings in Eighteenth-Century Cuba.” In Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by Tobias Hecht, 102–113. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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    The author delves into the workings of an 18th-century foundling home known as Casa Joseph that took in infants left at its doorstep. Laws protected the babies, with the white ones even granted the “privilege of nobility,” but the results of this early experiment in child welfare proved calamitous.

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  • Guy, Donna J. “Parents Before the Tribunals: The Legal Construction of Patriarchy in Argentina.” In Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America. Edited by Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneux, 172–193. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

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    A study of child custody cases in Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when men tended to believe they had absolute sovereignty over their children. In view of patria potestad, how did the pleas of mothers and fathers play out in court, and what did they suggest about notions of paternity and motherhood?

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  • Kuznesof, Elizabeth Anne. “The History of the Family in Latin America: A Critique of Recent Work.” Latin American Research Review 24.2 (1989): 168–186.

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    While the focus of this article is not on children per se, children do exist in families, and the context offered here is useful. An insightful gaze onto 1980s’ research in family history and a good point of departure for thinking about how children fit therein. Available online by subscription.

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  • Salinas Meza, René. “Orphans and Family Disintegration in Chile: The Mortality of Abandoned Children, 1750–1930.” Journal of Family History 16.3 (1991): 315–329.

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    Being an orphan in Chile during the period covered by this article was perilous. Around the turn of the 20th century, 80 percent of orphans died before their eighth birthday, and presumably this was somewhat better than in the past. The article follows orphans over a long period of time and examines the institutional response.

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  • Smith, Raymond T. The Negro Family in British Guyana: Family Structure and Social Status in the Villages. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956.

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    This classic of anthropology brought us the notion of matrifocality, a kinship system present throughout much of Latin America. Children are seen here in their economic and social relationship with the family. Perhaps the place to start when studying kinship in the region.

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  • Twinam, Ann. “The Church, the State, and the Abandoned: Expósitos in Late Eighteenth-Century Havana.” In Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Edited by Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, 163–186. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    A 1794 decree by Charles IV, applied to the entire Spanish empire, was meant to erase discrimination against foundlings: Expósitos were to be presumed white and the progeny of legitimate unions. Yet local law and practice in Cuba chipped away at the order, with racial and other prejudices prevailing even over the royal mandate.

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Adoption

“Child Circulation,” one section above, of course overlaps with “Adoption.” But in the following two books there is a difference. With circulation, the arrangement is generally informal and the child may even return to the natal home, only to be taken in eventually by someone else. The adoption referred to in Dubinsky 2010 and Leinaweaver 2008 could be formal and definitive. It also, in both cases, may entail an international transfer, which raises many issues about sovereignty and cultural heritage. In addition, the transfer is mediated by a third party, which generally is not true with child circulation.

  • Dubinsky, Karen. Babies without Borders: Adoption and Migration across the Americas. New York: New York University Press, 2010.

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    Based on research in Guatemala, Cuba, and North America, the author examines what she calls the political symbolism of children caught up in transnational adoption. The Cuba portion relates to Operation Peter Pan, when fourteen thousand children of opponents of Fidel Castro were transported to the United States The adoption of Guatemalan babies is referred to as a form of disappearance.

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  • Leinaweaver, Jessaca B. The Circulation of Children: Kinship, Adoption, and Morality in Andean Peru. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

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    How do parents portray themselves as the perfect candidates to adopt? Who gets to define abandonment? How do rumors about organ sales intersect with international adoption? One of the things that is most interesting about this ethnography is the number of situations the author got herself into in order to carry out this study.

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Child Labor

Child labor was tolerated and expected in the Americas since before there was a region known as Latin America, with children even working on the vessels that plied the seas between Europe and America (Ramos 1999). Today, universal schooling is generally the rule in Latin America, but there are large areas where, in practice, this is not true or where children work in addition to studying (Leiten 2011). Many working children speak with pride of their labor (see the documentary No és un joc), and many even bring in a good share of household income (see Hecht 1998 under Street Children). The pieces here discuss children ranging from supermarket check-out boys at the US–Mexico border (Aitken, et al. 2006) to domestic servants in a number of countries (Levison and Langer 2010). Orazem, et al. 2009 and Post 2002 offer ambitious analyses of the intersection of work and school in the region and Shelton 2007 of custody and the right to the fruits of the working child.

  • Aitken, Stuart, Silvia López Estrada, Joel Jennings, and Lina María Aguirre. “Reproducing Life and Labor: Global Processes and Working Children in Tijuana, Mexico.” Childhood 13.3 (2006): 365–387.

    DOI: 10.1177/0907568206066356Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    At the heart of this article is the “volunteer” labor of check-out boys at grocery stores in Tijuana. Attempting to place their work in the context of globalization, the authors suggest how these boys are global workers caught up in vertiginous change. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Leiten, Georges Krisoffel, ed. Hazardous Child Labor in Latin America. New York: Springer, 2011.

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    Concerns children working in a variety of settings, from waste collection to mining to agriculture. The voices of children come through the plain-spoken descriptions of their arduous, dangerous work. A multifaceted introduction to child labor in Latin America.

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  • Levison, Deborah, and Anna Langer. “Counting Child Domestic Servants in Latin America.” Population & Development Review 36.1 (2010): 125–149.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2010.00321.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using international census samples from 1960 to 2000, the authors find that domestic service accounts for a substantial part of the employment of girls. The authors examine the school enrollment of domestic workers in relation to that of nonworkers. Though no sense of real children is given, the statistical account raises questions useful for further investigation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Orazem, Peter F., Guilherme Luís Sedlacek, and Zafiris Tzannatos. Child Labor and Education in Latin America: An Economic Perspective. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230620100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Is poverty passed across generations through child labor? Have policies been created that mitigate the worst effects of child labor? The answers come in the language of technocrats who give us no sense of the lives of real children. On the other hand, this book offers important data on education, labor, and laws.

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  • Post, David. Children’s Work, Schooling, and Welfare in Latin America. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

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    An ambitious and rewarding volume on labor and education that doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions such as when working might help children. Focusing on Chile, Peru, and Mexico, the book also explores relevant legislation.

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  • Ramos, Fábio Pestana. “A história trágico-marítima das crianças nas embarcações Portuguesas do Século XVI.” In História das Crianças no Brasil. Edited by Mary Del Priore, 19–54. São Paulo, Brazil: Contexto, 1999.

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    In the 16th century, children worked on the vessels that sailed to Brazil as pages and grooms, and they sometimes traveled as passengers or even as “Orphans of the King” (girls under the age of sixteen were virtually kidnapped and sent to reduce the shortage of white women in Brazil). A fascinating glimpse of a little-known aspect of the lives of children in the new world.

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  • Rosa, Antonio, dir. No és un joc. DVD. Castilla-Leon, Spain: Comisiones Obreres de Catalunya, 2006.

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    An aesthetic tour de force, the documentary opens a window onto the lives of children in Latin America who work in activities from cutting cane to collecting shellfish to prostitution. Unsurpassed as an introduction to child labor in Latin America. Appropriate for students at any stage of higher learning.

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  • Shelton, Laura. “Like a Servant or Like a Son? Circulating Children in Northwest Mexico (1790–1850).” In Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Edited by Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, 219–237. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    Examining the Mexican state of Sonora, the author argues that “whoever raised a child and bore the expenses of food, clothing, and education was entitled to custody and, therefore, the child’s labor and loyalty” (p. 221). Whereas patriarchal authority in the family was diminished in this regime, the patriarchal rights of bosses over workers grew stronger.

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Migration, Labor, and the Separation of Families

The migration depicted here concerns the US–Mexico border. Enrique’s Journey (Nazario 2007) portrays a boy who travels by train to reach his mother in the United States. Prado 2008 is a documentary, also on children wanting to cross the border into the United States.

  • Nazario, Sonia. Enrique’s Journey. New York: Random House, 2007.

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    In this true story, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the odyssey of a Honduran boy who sets off by freight train to find his mother in the United States with only a slip of paper with his mother’s phone number. Enrique is harrowed by bandits, gangsters, and the Mexican police. Appropriate for high school and above.

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  • Prado, Anayansi, dir. Children in No Man’s Land. DVD. Los Angeles: Impacto Films, 2008.

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    By the director of Maid in America, this is a documentary about the experiences of children crossing the US–Mexico border. María de Jesus and Rene, ages thirteen and twelve, respectively, travel to the border hoping, among other things, to be reunited with their mothers. María de Jesus has not seen her mother for seven years and Rene, for one.

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Physical Health

The resources in this section were selected either as introductions to a topic—the historiography of child health (Birn 2007), for example—or as case studies that offer ample room for further research, including the relationship between rising GDP and public health (Biggs, et al. 2010), nutrition and bone growth (Linhares, et al. 1986), and female sterilization (Dalsgaard 2004). Stansbury 2000 concerns the growth of children in Ecuador who are looked after by older siblings. Whiteford 1998 is concerned with the larger picture, geopolitics, economic conditions, and services for the poor. Carrillo 2005 addresses the tension around the turn of the 20th century between teachers and the health authorities in Mexico over the bodies of children. Children’s Health in the US–Mexico Border States and Counties (Notzon and Albertorio n.d. was chosen for the quality of the data on children on both sides of (and close to) the US–Mexico border. Save the Children also provides helpful (if disheartening) data about children in Haiti, one year after the earthquake.

  • Biggs, Brian, Lawrence King, Sanjay Basu, and David Stuckler. “Is Wealthier Always Healthier? The Impact of National Income Level, Inequality, and Poverty on Public Health in Latin America.” Social Science & Medicine 71.2 (2010): 266–273.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article analyzes the relationships between GDP per capita and purchasing power parity, extreme poverty rates, personal income, and three common measures of public health. During times of decreasing or constant poverty and inequality, there was a very strong relationship between increasing GDP and higher life expectancy and lower TB and infant mortality rates. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Birn, Anne-Emanuelle. “Child Health in Latin America: Historiographic Perspectives and Challenges.” História, ciências, saúdeManguinhos 14.3 (2007): 677–708.

    DOI: 10.1590/S0104-59702007000300002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In the past, patterns of child health and well-being in Latin America have been assumed to be derivative of European and North American experiences. Through an examination of recent historiography, this author paints a more complex picture, making reference to a range of domestic and regional influences, including pre-Columbian cultures.

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  • Carrillo, Ana María. “Vigilancia y control del cuerpo de los niños: La inspección médica escolar (1896–1913).” In En el umbral de los cuerpos: Estudios de antropología e historia. Edited by Laura Cházaro and Rosalina Estrada. Zamora, Mexico: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2005.

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    The author delves into the clashing perspectives of teachers and doctors on the bodies of children. Meanwhile, parents were wary of the unfamiliar and growing medical supervision to which their children were subjected, and they lacked the economic means to take the measures recommended.

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  • Dalsgaard, Anne Line. Matters of Life and Longing: Female Sterilisation in Northeast Brazil. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2004.

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    Based on fieldwork in the working-class outskirts of Recife, in northeast Brazil, this book, at once readable and challenging, investigates why women seek and accept sterilization. The “children” in this ethnography are different from those in others works cited here in that they are mostly only a prospect.

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  • Notzon, Sam, and Juan Albertorio. Children’s Health in the US–Mexico Border States and Counties. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control, n.d.

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    A wealth of data on the health of children just over the US side of the US–Mexico border, including information on morbidity, mortality, demographics, birth weight, cancer, obesity, and more.

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  • Linhares, E. D., J. M. Round, and D. A. Jones. “Growth, Bone Maturation, and Biochemical Changes in Brazilian Children from Two Different Socioeconomic Groups.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 44.4 (1986): 552–558.

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    A study showing the dramatic difference in physical size between poor and well-to-do children in Brazil. Nine hundred Brazilian children ages seven to seventeen were studied for anthropometry and bone maturation. The privileged children were similar to the control group in the United States and Britain. Underprivileged children showed marked growth impairment and delay in bone maturation.

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  • Save the Children. Haiti’s Children One Year Later: A Country at a Crossroads. Westport, CT: Save the Children, 2011.

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    The report focuses on the needs of children in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake. Though it is specific to Save the Children’s work, the problems discussed are not. The photographs tell stories too.

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  • Stansbury, James P., William R. Leonard, and Kathleen M. DeWalt. “Caretaker, Child Care Practices, and Growth Failure in Highland Ecuador.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14.2 (2000): 224–241.

    DOI: 10.1525/maq.2000.14.2.224Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Children watch over their younger siblings in Ecuador and throughout much of Latin America. What is the effect of this on the physical growth of the children cared for? This study of twenty-eight children suggests there is none. On the other hand, this form of child minding can be detrimental when the charges are already in poor health. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Whiteford, Linda M. “Children’s Health as Accumulated Capital: Structural Adjustment in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.” In Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood. Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Carolyn Fishel Sargent. 186–201. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    This chapter explores the relationships between geopolitics and economic conditions on the one hand, and health services for children, on the other. The period studied is 1968 to 1992. Calls attention to the role of health capital—such as potable water, hospitals, and sanitation—in times of economic duress.

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Infant Mortality

Scheper-Hughes 1992 and Einarsdóttir 2004 are included for their clashing views on infant mortality. The former writes about Brazil; the latter addresses Guinea-Bissau but crosses the Atlantic to refute her colleague. Betrán, et al. 2001 is an example of a sound scientific study of the effect of breastfeeding on infant mortality.

  • Betrán, Ana P., M. de Onís, J. A. Lauer, and J. Villar. “Ecological Study of Effect of Breast Feeding on Infant Mortality in Latin America.” British Medical Journal 323.7308 (2001): 303–306.

    DOI: 10.1136/bmj.323.7308.303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article discusses the reduction in mortality in Latin America that could be brought about by exclusive breastfeeding in the first three months of life and partial breastfeeding subsequently.

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  • Einarsdóttir, Jónína. Tired of Weeping: Mother Love, Child Death, and Poverty in Guinea-Bissau. Women in Africa and the Diaspora. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

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    This ethnography of infant mortality in Guinea Bissau would at first seem to have nothing to do with Latin America. Yet Einarsdóttir serves up a gentle refutation of Scheper-Hughes 1992. The transatlantic dialogue raises many unsettling questions about our understanding of infant death in the Americas and beyond.

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  • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Death without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

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    This ethnography of infant mortality in northeast Brazil has proven as inescapable as it is divisive: Anthropologists cannot discuss infant mortality in contemporary Latin America without reference to it. The controversy emerges from the claim that the mothers often receive their children’s deaths with near indifference and sometimes even hasten them.

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Psychological Health

No two suggestions here are alike. Duarte, et al. 2003 offers a panoramic view of mental health problems and services in Latin America. Lopes, et al. 2009 is on the psychology of mothers in relation to their growing infants, whereas Gutmann 1998 examines the separation angst of small children. Dickson-Gómez 2002 addresses the psychological strains of child combatants.

  • Dickson-Gómez, Julia. “Growing Up in Guerrilla Camp: The Long-Term Impact of Being a Child Soldier in El Salvador’s Civil War.” Ethos 30.4 (2002): 327–356.

    DOI: 10.1525/eth.2002.30.4.327Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Children figure not merely among the civilian casualties of war but as combatants. This article studies four young adults in El Salvador who fought with the guerrilla army as children or adolescents. The young soldiers suffered psychological trauma and have had difficulties assuming civilian life.

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  • Duarte, Cristiane, Christina Hoven, Carlos Berganza, Isabel Bordin, Hector Bird, and Claudio T. Mirana. “Child Mental Health in Latin America: Present and Future Epidemiologic Research.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 33.3 (2003): 203–222.

    DOI: 10.2190/4WJB-BW16-2TGE-565WSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A literature review on child and adolescent mental health in Latin America over a period of fifteen years. The article discusses how the mental health needs of children and adolescents are met through different prevention and treatment strategies.

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  • Gutmann, Matthew G. “Mamitis and the Traumas of Development in a Colonia Popular of Mexico City.” In Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood. Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Carolyn Fishel Sargent, 130–148. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Mamitis is the tongue-in-cheek term for separation anxiety in children. The author explores why this condition seems to be on the rise in Mexico City and how this seemingly individual pathos may be related to unease with changing family dynamics. The chapter raises some interesting questions, including why there are there no recorded cases of papitis.

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  • Lopes, Rita de Cássia Sobreira, C. A. Piccinini, A. G. Vivian, D. S. de Oliveria, C. da Silva, and J. Tudge. “‘Quando eles crescem, eles voam’: Percepções e sentimentos maternos frente ao desenvolvimento infantil aos 18–20 meses.” Psicologia em Estudo 14.2 (2009): 221–232.

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    The study concerns maternal perceptions of children’s developmental achievements. Fourteen first-time mothers with children ages eighteen to twenty months, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, in or around the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, are studied through semistructured interviews.

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Children in Politics, Culture, and Public Policy

Just what do three-year-olds do on a daily basis? With whom do they spend time? In what sense do they take part in the larger cultural worlds in which they live? These are the kinds of questions taken up in Tudge 2008 with reference to young children in seven countries, including Brazil. The answer to these questions is that we know much less than we might think about the lives of young children. But how do we get to know them better? Morgan 1998 suggests that we can begin before humans are even born, arguing that the way the fetus is portrayed in debates over abortion in the United States stands in stark contrast to the way it is understood in Ecuador. In the former, the fetus is at the center of debate; in the latter, it is practically invisible. Yet the debate carries on in both countries. Childhood became a more discrete realm with the advent of pediatrics and pedagogy and other new child-related specializations; the same has happened with laws. Human rights apply to children, but do children require rights that adults do not? If one judges on the basis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, virtually all countries agree that children require special protections above and beyond what we understand as human rights. The website of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) offers a host of resources relating to the Convention. Pilotti and Rizzini 1996 investigates how children have been governed in Brazil, through legislation and other means, in the past. Morán, et al. 2003 examines the need for investing specifically in children and how that might be done, while Reese 2002 asks whether parenting strategies remain largely the same for Mexicans who cross the border and raise their children in the North and those who remain in Mexico. Silva 2010 is a film made by adolescents who are former combatants in Colombia. Carneiro Da Cunha 1995 is an insightful piece on the idea of the right of children to cultural identity, with particular reference to Brazilian indigenous people.

  • Carneiro da Cunha, Manuela. “Children, Politics, and Culture: The Case of Brazilian Indians.” In Children and the Politics of Culture. Edited by Sharon Stephens, 282–291. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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    What does it mean that the Convention on the Rights of Children asserts that children have a right to a “cultural identity,” something that is generally imposed, not chosen? In Brazil, adult Indians were deemed “incorrigible,” and removing children from their villages was considered paramount in the 16th century and up to the first half of the 20th century.

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  • Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York: UNICEF.

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    The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. This site offers a wealth of print and multimedia presentations on the Convention as well as the full text of the convention itself.

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    • Morán, Ricardo, Amartya Sen, and Gro Harlen Brundtland, eds. Escaping the Poverty Trap: Investing in Children in Latin America. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank, 2003.

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      A resource on the intergenerational transmission of poverty. This is a readable introduction to the idea of inequality and childhood in Latin America. The book includes contributions by Amartya Sen and Gro Harlen Brundtland, among others.

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    • Morgan, Lynn M. “Ambiguities Lost: Fashioning the Fetus into a Child in Ecuador and the United States.” In Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood. Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Carolyn Fishel Sargent, 58–74. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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      This chapter addresses the personhood of the fetus through the prism of the abortion debate in Ecuador and the United States. In Ecuador, where abortion is illegal if widely practiced, the fetus is rarely invoked in this debate, in stark contrast to the United States. The author argues, in fact, that the fetus is invisible in Ecuador.

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    • Pilotti, Francisco, and Irene Rizzini, eds. A arte de governar crianças: A história das políticas sociais, da legislação e da assistência à infância no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Universitária Santa Úrsula, 1996.

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      A history of how children are governed, reined in, taught, fed, and seen by policymakers.

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    • Reese, Leslie. “Parental Strategies in Contrasting Cultural Settings: Families in México and ‘El Norte.’” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 33.1 (2002): 30–59.

      DOI: 10.1525/aeq.2002.33.1.30Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      How does the parenting of Mexican mothers and fathers in the United States and the siblings of these parents in Mexico differ? Is the domestic order of Mexicans in the United States unchanging and in conflict with mainstream culture in the country? These are some of the questions taken up here.

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    • Silva, Rita de Cácia Oenning da, dir. Ruleta de la Vida = Life’s Roulette: A Film by Children Who Once Were Soldiers, 2008. DVD. Santa Fe, NM: Shine a Light, 2010.

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      Fifteen teenagers who had been soldiers in Colombia’s civil war made this film that by no means leaves behind the violence they knew well.

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    • Tudge, Jonathan. The Everyday Lives of Young Children: Culture, Class, and Child Rearing in Diverse Societies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511499890Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A work that borrows freely from psychology, anthropology, education, and beyond and demonstrates the usefulness of studying children in comparative perspective. Three-year-olds in seven countries, including Brazil, are the subjects; the investigation concerns the ways children spend their time and with whom and their emerging relationship to culture and class.

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    Crime

    Castillo Troncoso 2005 treats juvenile crime and illness in Mexico City around the turn of the 20th century through an analysis of the changing fields of medicine and pedagogy. What is the relationship between crime and punishment on the one hand and notions of race, class, and gender on the other? Premo 2002 asks this question with reference to 18th-century Lima. Wolseth 2011 has a unique focus regarding how many working-class children in Honduras turn their backs on violence. Speckman Guerra 2005 brings into focus delinquent children in the days of Porfirio Díaz.

    • Castillo Troncoso, Alberto de. “Médicos y pedagogos frente a la degeneración racial: La niñez en la ciudad de México, 1876–1911.” In De normas y transgresiones: Enfermedad y crimen en América Latina (1850–1950). Edited by Claudia Agostoni and Elisa Speckman Guerra, 83–107. Serie de historia moderna y contemporánea 43. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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      A thesis on how ideas in pedagogy and pediatrics together forged a new concept of childhood in Mexico City and the role of ideas about related miscegenation. Fears of racial degeneration were widespread in Mexico at this time, and these played out in many ways.

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    • Premo, Bianca. “Minor Offenses: Youth, Crime, and Law in Eighteenth-Century Lima.” In Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by Tobias Hecht, 114–138. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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      Examines crime in 18th-century Lima as it relates to larger notions of childhood. In studying how punishment was meted out and clemency granted, the author finds that patterns of discipline and reform were mediated by hierarchies of colonial society—race, class, and gender in particular.

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    • Speckman Guerra, Elisa. “Infancia es destino: Menores delincuentes en la ciudad de México (1884–1910).” In De normas y transgresiones, enfermedad y crimen en América Latina (1850–1920). Edited by Claudia Agostoni and Elisa Speckman Guerra, 225–254. Serie de historia moderna y contemporánea 43. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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      The chapter examines ideas about childhood during the rule of Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. Childhood was believed to last until the age of twelve or fourteen, with the median point dividing childhood into two distinct periods. Both stages were said to be marked by innocence, but exceptions to this view were made for delinquent children.

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    • Wolseth, Jon. Jesus and the Gang: Youth Violence and Christianity in Urban Honduras. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.

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      From the book’s inside flap : “This book examines. . . [how youths] in working-class neighborhoods of El Progreso, Honduras, turn away from perpetuating the cycle of violence and how Christianity serves a society where belonging is surviving.”

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    Socialization and Education

    This section could be divided into studies of socialization in very narrow contexts on the one hand and macro studies of educational policy and funding in Latin America on the other. Children at play (Altman 2002), Rae-Espinoza 2010 writes on raising an antisocial child in Ecuador. Post 2002 and Vegas and Santibáñez 2010 are at another extreme: They provide information on education and welfare policies without much reference to actual children. In addressing questions such as whether poverty is passed from one generation to another, this broader and more distant view has its benefits. Zarger 2002 considers what knowledge Maya children in Belize have about plants that are important for subsistence and how they learn it. The section includes a piece that attempts to address a question that is as relevant today as it was in centuries past—Chambouleyron 1999 writes on the Jesuits in 16th-century Brazil, delving into the importance of children in a campaign of mass religious conversion. Not surprisingly, early childhood education is a preocupation of some researchers: Freitas, et al. 2008 and Vegas and Santibáñez 2010 stand out. What is particularly important here is that early childhood education is by no means always included in the larger education plans.

    • Altman, Raquel Zumbano. “Brincando na história.” In História das Crianças no Brasil. 3d ed. Edited by Mary Del Priore, 231–258. São Paulo, Brazil: Contexto, 2002.

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      A study of children and play among indigenous and nonindigenous Brazilians. Discusses artifacts, games, and toys—their creation, use, and social meanings.

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    • Chambouleyron, Rafael. “Jesuítas e as crianças no Brasil quinhentista.” In História das Crianças no Brasil. Edited by Mary Del Priore, 55–83. São Paulo, Brazil: Contexto, 1999.

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      The Jesuits—along with other orders—believed that on children “the doctrine will be better imprinted” and that they must “make Christians” of them. The importance of children to evangelization in Latin America is a topic that has scarcely been touched, given the possibilities.

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    • Freitas, Lia B. L., Terri L. Shelton, and Jonathan R. H. Tudge. “Conceptions of US and Brazilian Early Childhood Care and Education: A Historical and Comparative Analysis.” International Journal of Behavioral Development 32.2 (2008): 161–170.

      DOI: 10.1177/0165025407087216Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The article examines how notions of care and education have changed over time in the United States and Brazil and argues that the approaches have been quite different. Despite a rapid growth in the numbers of children attending preschool institutions, integrated systems have not been achieved in either country. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Post, David. Children’s Work, Schooling, and Welfare in Latin America. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

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      Focusing on Chile, Peru, and Mexico, the book explores legislation on education and work.

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    • Rae-Espinoza, Heather. “Consent and Discipline in Ecuador: How to Avoid Raising an Antisocial Child.” In Special Issue: Mothering as Everyday Practice. Edited by Kathleen Barlow and Bambi L. Chapin. Ethos 38.4 (2010): 369–387.

      DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2010.01156.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The article is about the fear of how children might grow up. Based on fieldwork in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the author studies how discipline is applied and consent granted and what the ethnographic findings of this study might say about developmental theories on discipline. Available online by subscription.

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    • Vegas, Emiliana, and Lucrecia Santibáñez. The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin American Development Forum Series. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010.

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      This book (written with the policy wonks in mind) examines early childhood education programs and the need for broader and better ones in Latin America. An “evidence-based” argument is made for greater investment in early childhood development, particularly for the poor. Comparisons with countries outside of Latin America are made.

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    • Zarger, R. K. “Acquisition and Transmission of Subsistence Knowledge by Q’eqchi’ Maya in Belize.” In Ethnobiology and Biocultural Diversity: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Ethnobiology. Edited by John R. Stepp, Felice S. Wyndham, and Rebecca K. Zarger, 593–603. Athens, GA: International Society of Ethnobiology, 2002.

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      How do children learn what they know about plants and food preparation in a subsistence economy? The author suggests that in the context studied here, children begin to acquire this knowledge at the same time they are learning to speak and that work and play are not always distinguishable. Older siblings are an important source of socialization.

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    Indigenous Childhood

    Readings on the childhood of indigenous Latin Americans might well have been integrated with the rest of the material in this bibliography. On the other hand, the authors of these articles and books tend to have a different focus, such as infanticide (Bugos and McCarthy 1984), cultural identity and childhood (Modiano 1973), and child labor in the context of a subsistence economy (Kramer 2005), among others. Arnold and Dios Yapita 2006 is a rich, nuanced look at writing and (among other topics) childhood in the Andes. Shein 1992 offers a portrait of children in three pre-Columbian societies. Bolin 2006, about the Andes, is an ethnography of contemporary children growing up in highland Peru and how they manage to thrive in a culture that does not encourage competition. Readers with an interest in a holistic vision of indigenous children will not be disappointed. Vergara 2007 searches for clues about indigenous children placed into domestic service with Spaniards in 17th-century Peru. Wagley 1977 offers an ethnography about the Tapiré Indians of central Brazil, with a number of interesting asides about children. The literature is rich and heterogeneous, hence this eclectic sample.

    • Arnold, Denise Y., and Juan de Dios Yapita. The Metamorphosis of Heads: Textual Struggles, Education, and Land in the Andes. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

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      The struggle for sovereignty in the Andes is counterposed to ideas about the nature of writing. This richly interpreted book discusses children in the context of war and rituals. Children are, for the state, a potential vehicle of homogenization; in indigenous communities they may be seen as a sort of tribute, sacrificed in exchange for communal rights to land.

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    • Bolin, Inge. Growing Up in a Culture of Respect: Child Rearing in Highland Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.

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      This lucid ethnography ponders how respect is instilled in the children of this highland community, populated by herders of alpacas, llamas, and sheep. It asks how they thrive despite coming of age in a society with no appreciation for competitiveness.

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    • Bugos, Paul E. Jr., and Lorraine M. McCarthy. “Ayoreo Infanticide: A Case Study.” In Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives. Edited by Glenn Hausfater and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, 503–520. New York: Aldine, 1984.

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      The Ayoreo of Bolivia and Paraguay say (or said in 1980–1981) that they practice infanticide for the following reasons: the birth of an “ugly” (deformed) child, twins, one baby born too soon after another, the termination of a marriage near the time of the birth, and births to women unprepared for motherhood. The authors explore whether the practice serves group or individual adaptation.

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    • Kramer, Karen. Maya Children: Helpers at the Farm. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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      A study of children as both consumers and producers “across the demographic lifecycle of the family.” Kramer offers, among other things, a discerning discussion of quantitative and qualitative methods for studying child labor. Drawing from economic and behavioral ecology, this is a rich contribution to our understanding of child labor, in particular in the context of a subsistence economy.

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    • Modiano, Nancy. Indian Education in the Chiapas Highlands. Case Studies in Education and Culture. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973.

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      This case study, published in the early 1970s, is a classic work on bilingual education and is one of the most interesting discussions of indigenous childhood published in this period. Modiano begins her descriptions with infancy, when babies are nursed on demand and spend most of their time on their mothers’ backs. Modiano describes the growing children in their play and in school. The once-monolingual children are taught in Spanish-medium schools that assume a Western understanding of the world.

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    • Shein, Max. The Precolumbian Child. Translated by Marina Castañeda. Culver City, CA: Labyrinthos, 1992.

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      Culling books from the days of the Conquest and shortly after and indigenous codices, Shein presents a compelling portrait of childhood in three societies: Aztec, Maya, and highland South American. Pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, games and toys, disease, and child sacrifices are all discussed.

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    • Vergara, Teresa C. “Growing Up Indian: Migration, Labor, and Life in Lima (1570–1640).” In Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Edited by Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, 75–106. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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      This chapter relies on a 1613 census of indigenous people in Lima, labor contracts, and wills. Indian parents in Lima would place their children in the households of Spaniards so they would learn practical and cultural skills. A rewarding piece.

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    • Wagley, Charles. Welcome of Tears: The Tapirapé Indians of Central Brazil. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

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      Not a book avowedly about children, the volume nevertheless contains intermittent discussions of babies and older children, including discussions of infanticide, proper childhood behavior, rites of passage, and more.

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    Street Children

    As Aptekar 1988 points out, street children are at once pitied and feared. Passersby want to help them, in particular the young ones, but are also wary. Perhaps that is why the reactions of society at large have ranged from an outpouring of concern and support to calls for their eradication—and sometimes more than calls (Dimenstein 1991). It is these kinds of highly atypical children, small in number, who are the most studied: children who do not live in homes, attend schools, or depend very much on adults. Most who study them closely consider street children to be socially competent (Felsman 1981, Ennew 1994). To look back over the literature since 1980, Butler and Rizzini 2003 is a good source. Márquez 1999 and Hecht 1998 are ethnographies of street children in Brazil and Venezuela, respectively. Shine a Light offers a rich array of resources—virtual publications, videos, links to legislation, and more. This may be the best place to start.

    • Aptekar, Lewis. Street Children of Cali. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.

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      Aptekar blends psychological testing with ethnographic observation to challenge much of what is believed about street children. The study is innovative in the methods used and adroit in the questions it raises. Even if one finds unconvincing the likening of Colombian “gamines” to Huckleberry Finn, this is a must-read for anyone studying street children.

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    • Butler, Udi, and Irene Rizzini. “Young People Living and Working on the Streets of Brazil: Revisiting the Literature.” Children, Youth and Environments 13.1 (2003).

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      The authors study the literature about street children in Brazil between 1980 and 2000. While the numbers of such children have probably not increased much, according to the authors, “What instead has changed is the way this phenomenon is viewed, interpreted and acted upon by wider society.”

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    • Dimenstein, Gilberto. Brazil: War on Children. Translated by Chris Whitehouse. London: Latin America Bureau, 1991.

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      Brazilian journalist Gilberto Dimenstein wrote this at about the apogee of international concern over the conditions of street children. Some of his claims are exaggerated—sensationalistic even—but anyone with an interest in the literature on street children will find this worthwhile, for it captures the widespread outrage.

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    • Ennew, Judith. “Less Bitter than Expected: Street Youth in Latin America.” Anthropology in Action 1.1 (1994): 7–11.

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      Images of street children as portrayed by nongovernmental organizations and governments, and of the “strongly masculine heroes” who set out to help them, are discussed. The author counters the notion that street children need to be saved, suggesting that they might actually achieve freedom from “the bonds of the state, bureaucracy, bosses and dependency on [an] intolerable family.”

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    • Felsman, J. Kirk. “Street Urchins of Cali: On Risk, Resilience and Adaptation in Childhood.” PhD diss., Harvard University, 1981.

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      An engaging psychological study of street children in Colombia, carefully researched and thoughtfully written. Of special importance is the author’s writing on resilience among street children.

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    • Hecht, Tobias. At Home in the Street: Street Children of Northeast Brazil. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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      This book argues that the conditions of homeless children in northeast Brazil, dire as they are, have eclipsed those of “home children”—the millions of age-mates of homeless children who have not taken to the streets. The attention to street children, inadvertently, satisfies a middle-class wish for a social apartheid that keeps the poor out of view.

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    • Márquez, Patricia C. The Street Is My Home: Youth and Violence in Caracas. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

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      This rewarding ethnography delves into the world of street children and youths in Caracas, examining identity, selfhood, and values as mental categories. The choices of children in relation to consumption and in their use of violence are central to the analysis. Marquez is particularly successful in theorizing a population that has been treated mostly in a journalistic fashion.

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    • Shine a Light Digital Library.

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      More information than one could possibly hope for on street children and poor children throughout the Americas: a virtual library, links to relevant nongovernmental organizations, dozens of videos by or about street children, legislation, and more. A gem for activists, students, and anyone with curiosity on this topic.

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      Diverse Historical Topics

      Historians of Latin America have written on childhood from many angles, and circulation is one of the most prominent. In the past, children were born illegitimate for different reasons, and the consequences varied greatly. Those placed in orphanages during the colonial era mostly died (Milanich 2009, Twinam 1999). Yet they were the subject of debate and legislation that touched on issues of legitimacy and race. They came to be presumed legitimate, yet they were by no means treated as such. Alcubierre 2004 explores how we acquired our knowledge about children and argues that this knowledge comes mostly from the impressions of adults about children. Alcubierre and King 1996 draws our attention to children before and during the Mexican Revolution, in particular to the children’s relationship to the war. In discussing family formation, immigration, and religion, Szuchman 1988 brings children into a rich portrait of 19th-century Buenos Aires. The role of children on the ships that sailed to the Americas and in slavery are explored in Pérez Mallaína 1998 and Kuznesof 2007, respectively. Both Las Casas 1992 and Sepúlveda 1987 invoke notions of childhood in their 16th-century portrayals of the native inhabitants of the Americas.

      • Alcubierre, Beatriz. “Infancia, lectura y recreación: Una historia de las publicationes para niños en el siglo xix mexicano.” PhD diss., Colegio de México, 2004.

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        In this study of publications for children, Alcubierre discusses the extent to which the representations of childhood offered by adults have been passed off as a history of childhood.

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      • Alcubierre, Beatriz, and Tania Carreño King. Los niños villistas: Una mirada a la historia de la infancia en México, 1900–1920. Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de la Revolución Mexicana, 1996.

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        A fascinating history of the images of children from the Mexican Revolution and slightly before. At its core are four “worlds” of childhood: the one projected by the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz; the ideal childhood imagined by the elite; “popular” children who must work from a young age; and peasants.

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      • Kuznesof, Elizabeth Anne. “Slavery and Childhood in Brazil (1550–1888).” In Raising an Empire: Children in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America. Edited by Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, 187–218. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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        Remarkably little is known about the children who involuntarily contributed so much to the wealth of a nation whose riches they would never enjoy. From the broad literature on slavery, Kuznesof teases out clues and offers up interpretations that begin to tell us about Brazil’s youngest slaves.

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      • Las Casas, Bartolomé de. The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account. Translated by Herma Briffault. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

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        The combative Dominican theologian’s writings denouncing the violence wrought on the native inhabitants of the Americas contain many intriguing references to children. He likens Indians to children for their putative innocence and purity. Originally published in 1552.

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      • Milanich, Nara B. Children of Fate: Childhood, Class, and the State in Chile, 1850–1930. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.

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        A book that interweaves laws and forgotten lives, social and legal histories, private and public relations. Milanich is accessible without being simplistic and adventuresome without leading the reader somewhere very obscure. While the historiography is specific to Chile, the book has something for most scholars of Latin American history and of childhood.

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      • Pérez Mallaína, Pablo Emilio. Spain’s Men of the Sea: Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century. Translated by Carla Rahn Phillips. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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        Though not a book about children, this volume discusses the role of boys on the ships that sailed to the New World. Children made up as much as 40 percent of crews during the 16th century; they swabbed the decks, kept track of time, and performed religious rites.

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      • Sepúlveda, Juan Ginés de. Historia del Nuevo Mundo. Translated by Antonio Ramírez de Verger. Madrid: Alianza, 1987.

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        Sepúlveda was the 16th-century theologian who defended the Conquest in the Valladolid controversy. In his writings he alludes to the natives of the New World as children, for their alleged inability to manage their own affairs. It is these images of children that historians will likely find especially interesting.

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      • Szuchman, Mark D. Order, Family, and Community in Buenos Aires, 1810–1860. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988.

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        Not explicitly a book about children, yet the volume brings children and youth into the larger picture of history. Sections on child labor and on youth and the moral order discuss children, while other parts offer the larger context—family formation, immigration, and religion, for instance.

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      • Twinam, Ann. Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality, and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

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        In a study of 240 legitimacy petitions to authorities in Spain, Twinam adumbrates the possible implications for race, gender, social status, and culture of these cases involving elite families. Those interested in legitimacy and notions of honor in Latin America will find this text richly documented and well argued.

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      Literature and Arts

      Children are everywhere in literature, and these are some examples. Some of the sources that are the most interesting to researchers may be those in which children are the main focus, such as Captains of the Sands (Amado 1988), a novel about street children in Bahia, or “The Children’s Rebellion” (Peri Rossi 2002) about institutionalized children. Some of Latin America’s greatest authors, such as Horacio Quiroga and Julio Cortázar, wrote literature for children (Quiroga 1940, Cortázar 2008). Arenas 1993 offers a glimpse of a rural childhood before the Cuban revolution. Rêgo 1966 takes readers into a rural childhood in Brazil, in this case a well-healed childhood. Finally, Sosenski 2003 examines representations of working children in 19th-century Mexico.

      • Amado, Jorge. Captains of the Sands. Translated by Gregory Rabassa. New York: Avon, 1988.

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        This early novel by Brazilian author Jorge Amado (b. 1912) portrays a band of street children who inhabit the wharves in the city of Salvador. Romanticized but not implausible, their lives remind us that street children are not such a recent phenomenon. Appropriate for students at any level.

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      • Arenas, Reinaldo. Before Night Falls. New York: Penguin, 1993.

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        The most lyrical part of this otherwise scabrous self-portrait are the opening sections when the Cuban author (b. 1943) writes about his childhood and his precocious sexuality. In the first lines, Arenas is a small child eating soil, a gesture suggestive in a way of his later sensibilities as a writer close to the earth and especially to the sea.

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      • Cortázar, Julio. Discurso del oso. Barcelona: Libros del Zorro Rojo, 2008.

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        Julio Cortázar was not known for his children’s literature, but this tale, illustrated luxuriantly by Emilio Urberuaga, is of the caliber and register of his best writing for adults. A bear who lives in the ducts and pipes of an apartment building spies on the lonely life of humans.

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      • Peri Rossi, Cristina. “The Children’s Rebellion.” In Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by Tobias Hecht, 251–272. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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        In this prescient tale, written in 1972—just before the start of Uruguay’s slow coup and four years before the Argentine military siezed power—institutionalized children separated from their activist parents rebel against the repressive world that adults have made for them.

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      • Quiroga, Horacio. South American Jungle Tales. Translated by Arthur Livingston. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1940.

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        Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga (b. 1878), known for his fiction for adults, also achieved popularity with Cuentos de la selva, first published in 1918. The stories in this collection have the feel of fables, with talking animals and underlying morals.

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      • Rêgo, José Lins do. Plantation Boy. Translated by Emmi Baum. New York: Knopf, 1966.

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        In this Brazilian novel, the narrator tells of his discovery of social inequalities on a plantation and his awakening sexuality. One of the finest Latin American bildungsromans, both because it captures a growing awareness of the world through the eyes of a child and because it brings to life the inner world of a very young observer. First published in 1932.

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      • Sosenski, Susana. “Niños y jóvenes aprendices: Representaciones en la literatura mexicana del siglo XIX.” Estudios de historia moderna y contemporánea 26 (2003).

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        Using literary sources, the author examines representations of working children—especially apprentices—in 19th-century Mexico. At this time, apprenticeships, far from offering children a means of learning a profession, made them into servants and errand boys. The children found ingenious ways of rebelling.

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      Autobiography

      Herzer 1982 is virtually unknown, while Jesus 1962 was a best-seller. Both works are Brazilian, the former written by a troubled adolescent and the latter by a rag picker who comments on everything from her disrespectful neighbors to national politics.

      • Herzer, Sandra Mara. A queda para o alto. Petrópolois, Brazil: Vozes, 1982.

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        The posthumous memoir of a teenager’s life and years in state institutions in São Paulo. The transgendered author expresses himself in an inimitable narrative voice as he ushers the reader through the maelstrom of institutional life. This may be the only book about Latin American state reformatories told from the perspective of a child.

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      • Jesus, Carolina Maria de. Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus. Translated by David St. Clair. New York: Dutton, 1962.

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        First published in Brazil in 1960, this book, written by a rag picker, quickly became one of the country’s best-selling books. A sociological gem. The observations about her own children and those of others she encounters are rewarding to anyone studying childhood in Latin America.

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      Visual Arts

      Representations of children in the visual arts range from 17th-century Peruvian murals (Dean 2002) to Babenco 2001, a film titled Pixote on street children in Brazil. Pixote was made mostly with nonprofessional actors, and Levine 1997 is about the making of this iconic film and what happened afterward to the eleven-year-old lead actor. Los olvidados (Buñuel 2001) is a film about poor children in Mexico City and some of the darker angles of human nature. Benson 2002 examines children in Haitian art over the centuries.

      • Babenco, Hector, dir. Pixote: A lei do mais fraco, 1981. DVD. New York: New Yorker Films, 2001.

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        A disturbing portrait of a gun-toting ten-year-old, by turns innocent and hardened, and his friends. Pixote (meaning something like “squirt” or “runt”) takes viewers into the worlds of a juvenile reformatory (where we see no attempts at reform) and back out again into drugs, prostitution, and the seedy glamour of the streets of Rio. Arguably the best film ever made about street children.

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      • Benson, LeGrace. “How Haitian Artists Disclose Childhood of All Ages.” In Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by Tobias Hecht, 181–214. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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        A study of representations of children by artists of diverse backgrounds and sensibilities who interweave images of the young with Haiti’s European, African, and New World heritages, including images from daily life and from dreams.

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      • Buñuel, Luis, dir. Los olvidados, 1950. DVD. Paris: Ciné Club, 2001.

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        In the eye of the storm are children who work, steal, conspire, and murder, but all around them whirl the failures of schools, parents, and the state. There is no past to wax nostalgic about, and the future offers no reason for hope. An unflinching portrait of the collision of human repression and human nature.

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      • Dean, Carolyn. “Sketches of Childhood: Children in Colonial Andean Art and Society.” In Minor Omissions: Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by Tobias Hecht, 21–51. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

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        Dean explores images of children in a series of canvases by anonymous 17th-century Andean artists. The interpretation of these images by viewers from various strata of Andean society would have turned on notions of what a child is—notions, she suggests, that were not broadly shared.

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      • Levine, Robert. “Pixote: Fiction and Reality in Brazilian Life.” In Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies. Edited by Donald F. Stevens, 203–216. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1997.

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        Levine studies the film Pixote (see Babenco 2001) in its social and historical context. It also delves into the aftermath of the film about street children in considering the fate of the lead actor, whose death seemed to mimic the fiction of the film.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 03/23/2012

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0016

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