This book is an ethnographic exploration of slum children’s participation in NGO programs that centres children’s narratives as key to understanding the lived experience of development in India where 50% of the population is under the age of 25.
Weaving theoretical and methodological interventions from anthropology, childhood studies and development studies with children’s own narratives and images, the author foregrounds children’s lifeworlds whilst documenting the extent to which these lifeworlds are shaped by the twin forces of marginalisation and aspiration. The book documents NGO campaigns targeting child marriage, sanitation and hygiene, gendered violence and bullying, and depicts and examines children’s sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes reluctant, and sometimes indifferent approach to narrating and performing development. It assesses the way in which children from four slum communities in New Delhi navigate the multiplicities and contradictions of development by analysing the stories, posters and performances children produce for NGOs. Moreover, the book argues that engagement with children’s narratives and performances provide valuable insights into how development attains meaning, garners consensus, fails, succeeds and circulates in a myriad of unexpected ways which consistently defy any assumptions about ‘underdeveloped’ subjectivities.
The first book to interrogate the substance and subjectivities produced in the development of NGO organisations offering extra-curricular programs directed towards more intangible and experiential ends, it will be of interest to researchers working in anthropology, development studies, childhood studies and South Asian studies. The book also speaks to scholars working on issues of poverty, rural-urban migration, gender justice, slums and youth.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part I: Developing the Child 1. Development: A Story of Three Million NGOs, Innumerable Slum Dwellers and Some Wonderfully ‘Animated’ Children 2. Childhood: A Story of Interventions, Birthdays, Play and Pragmatism Part II: Problems and Solutions 3. Problem: Violence 4. Photo-essay: A Class in Self Defence 5. Solutions: Girl Power and Real Men Part III: Performance 6. Handwashing as Potential: "But my Mother Washes her Hands!" 7. Fun and Dreams Conclusion
Annie McCarthy is Assistant Professor in Global Studies at the University of Canberra, Australia.