SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Alessandro Conticini

Alessandro Conticini Manchester University

We are the Kings: Children of Dhaka's Streets

Full Paper (PDF)

Based on one year ethnographic and participatory research, the paper presents main findings on how children in street situations protect and promote their livelihoods in Dhaka city. Street life involves a consequential process of adaptation through which new comers pass from survival strategies to the development of more complex and articulated coping strategies typical of well established street dwellers. During this process, street living children pass from basic needs satisfaction to preferences satisfactions.

Indeed, the paper details the phases of street adaptation, paying attention to how street living children protect and promote their livelihoods according to experience and length of street life. Dynamics of exclusion/inclusion, moral economy, resilience and main policy implications will also be presented.

The theoretical framework applied is a top-down rights based approach originally integrated with a bottom-up sustainable livelihoods framework, this new operationalisation resulted to be very useful to understand children priorities and preferences when compared to their institutional rights. In particular, this theoretical framework allowed to start from observing what street living children are already doing for managing poverty and only subsequently setting their coping dynamics into a broader context of reference driven by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.