Bodies on the line: identity markers among Mexican street youth

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Abstract:

This paper presents material from extended interviews and observations with 25 street youth in Mexico, revealing how their attempts to control and understand their lives relies on a control of and identification with their bodies. Using Goffman's ideas of stigma and performance, and Butler's performativity, the paper illustrates that even if these young peoples' bodies fall short of mainstream ideas for youthful bodies, they have developed some strategies that allow some control over their bodies. These bodily performances differ according to audience. This intention is by no means fully achieved. Their bodily actions sets out a series of identity markers but street life implies all sort of events, from painful childhoods to vicious leisure pursuits, and restricts the ability to affect material conditions. Moreover, care needs to be taken in interpreting these signs as the participants' own understandings and practices are neither easily categorized nor consistent.

Keywords: Mexico; body; identity markers; performance; street youth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14733280802630932

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography & Environment, London School of Economics, UK 2: Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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