Tensions Surrounding the Rights of Indigenous Children: Contributions of Anthropological Research with Mapuche and Mbya Guaraní Children in Argentina

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 00:00
Oral Presentation
Andrea SZULC, National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)- Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Noelia ENRIZ, National Council of Scientific and Technical Research. Argentina, Argentina
The lives of indigenous children in Argentina are marked by profound tensions with state institutions, corporations and other social actors with juxtaposing interests. Since indigenous rights are rarely upheld and social exclusion persists among indigenous groups in both the north and south of the country, children’s undertakings—like political mobilizations and subsistence activities on the street—bring attention to this conflict in metropolitan areas. Here we will analyze the state’s responses, which include police repression, the institutionalization of minors and legal attempts to revoke parenting rights, starkly contradicting a state discourse that prioritizes human rights. Actions such as these revive models for dealing with juvenile offenders—and with poverty-stricken children—dating to the turn of the 20th century and long since repealed, in spite of rhetoric among public officials on children’s rights and the need to safeguard them. At a broader level, these state responses reenact the repression and tutelage the indigenous people have suffered historically in countries across the Americas. Finally, the materials analyzed in the work evidence the need for an anthropological analysis of the notion of “rights,” moving away from an ontological approach to examine its concrete meanings, uses, productions and appropriations from a historical and contextual perspective (SCHUCH, 2009).

Methodologically, this work draws from a range of source material—principally, press articles and media coverage—and ethnographic notes from fieldwork conducted by the authors with Mapuche children in the province of Neuquén and Mbya Guaraní children in the province of Misiones.