Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Kevin A. Yelvington, D.Phil.

Keywords

Urban poverty, Citizenship, Human rights, Paulo Freire, Non-governmental organizations

Abstract

Projeto Axé is a non-governmental organization that carries out political-pedagogical work and art education for children and adolescents living in a street situation in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. I conducted an exploratory ethnographic study with Projeto Axé's Street Education program in order to observe its day-to-day activities and to conduct a utilization-focused program evaluation (Patton 1997) of its pedagogical praxis. This thesis will describe how ethnographic fieldwork methods are interwoven with the political-pedagogical approaches of Projeto Axé's Street Education program and explain how street educators attempt to construct citizenship with participants in the Street Education program. Findings are based on an analysis of data collected during three months of fieldwork, during which I observed the day-to-day activities of the Street Education program and formally interviewed seven street educators.

Projeto Axé's street educators employ ethnographic fieldwork methods in order to more holistically understand the everyday lives of street youth, as well as the dynamics of "street culture" that emerge in the particular urban spaces frequented by street youth. The result is an anthropological understanding that serves as the foundation for street education activities, through which street youth are provoked to think critically about their everyday reality in order to transform it (Freire 1970). The construction of citizenship through Street Education is based on the "pedagogy of desire" (Carvalho 2000), a psychological-sociocultural theory of learning developed by the organization specifically for working with youth living in a street situation. Street education and the construction of citizenship begin and happen with the desire of street youth.

The content of street education is not fixed or predetermined, but emerges out of a particular street youth's desires, needs, and dialogues with street educators. I conclude that, combined with Freireian-inspired political pedagogy and the pedagogy of desire, the use of ethnographic fieldwork methods by street educators is crucial for Projeto Axé's attempts at realizing radical transformations in the lives of street youth. Furthermore, Projeto Axé's anthropological approaches to the social and political inclusion of street youth increase the adaptability of its street pedagogy to the local socio-cultural realities emergent in other urban spaces.

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