The 'troublemakers'

Mevawalla, Zinnia; Salamon, Andi and Chng, Angela, eds. (2019) The 'troublemakers'. In: Multiple Early Childhood Identities. Routledge, Oxon, UK, pp. 18-33. ISBN 9780367001339

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    Research on identity in the early years has widened the ‘lens’ used to frame children’s subjectivities as capable and competent beings. Despite this, much of the literature on children from underprivileged contexts has continued to position children as ‘tragic’ or ‘needy’. For example, research on children living on the street in India continues to be imbued by language caricaturising children as ‘vulnerable’, ‘criminal’, ‘troublesome’ or ‘violent’. Concurrently, literature suggests that labels such as “street child” have been used to classify, rank, measure, exclude and/or segregate children in early childhood and educational programs. Thus, critics have argued that constructions of the “street child” have made children’s identities synonymous with their experiences of street life, thereby disregarding the view that vulnerability is a situational experience, rather than an inherent trait. Reflecting on the question of ‘if a focus on identity may be as problematic as it is useful’, this chapter is underscored by three aims. First, it aims to disrupt the adult ‘gaze’ of the “street child”, drawing on insights from research eliciting children’s perspectives. Secondly, the chapter unpacks the views of children living on the street about their identity and experiences as “street children”. Finally, the chapter draws on insights from critical pedagogy to problematise oppression and offer alternatives for engaging children in the processes of identity resistance, reinvention and reclamation, through reflection on the pedagogical possibilities emerging from engaging children in the development of critical consciousness.

    ORCID iDs

    Mevawalla, Zinnia ORCID logoORCID:; Salamon, Andi and Chng, Angela