Accepted paper:

Transforming maternity along the fomalization process of urban wastepickers in Buenos Aires


Henrike Neuhaus (Goldsmiths University of London)

Paper short abstract:

The Paper analyses transforming practices of motherhood and working as wastepicker in Buenos Aires along the process of formalization. The results are based on an anthropological fieldwork within a cooperative group of urban ragpickers.

Paper long abstract:

Due to the economic crisis in Argentina increased the figure of people who are collecting informally recyclable material in Buenos Aires. This growing phenomenon elicited the formation of groups pushing forward negotiations with the government to formalize waste-picking by cooperativization, which includes a struggle for more securities and social services. During my fieldwork I noticed that a large figure of young women, mostly mothers, joined the cooperative to work there regularly. So arose the question - does the cooperativization mean to the women to declare the right of child care, hoping to give their children more prospects for the future? At least practices of bringing the children to the city and growing them on the streets is also forced by law to change. So the children are protected from urban violence and the ability of child care in educational institutions diminishes some inequalities of opportunities. The paper is analysing anthropological research material that was collected during fieldwork with a group of urban wastepickers in Buenos Aires, focusing on the aspect of transforming practices of motherhood and being a worker. The empirical data indicate that cooperativization can be considered as a strategy, specially of women, to agitate against the situation of poverty and vulnerability.

panel G10
Comparing urban poverty from an ethnographic perspective