Accepted Paper:

Children as ethnographers: an experience in the Bolivia-Argentina border  


Natalia Zlachevsky

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to make use of the experience of participant observation, and visual records, performed by children in the border bridge between Argentina and Bolivia. The main goal is to think about the scope and potential of this kind of methodologies in a work field with children.

Paper long abstract:

In this work we describe an activity proposed as a part of a research on children's perceptions and national identification processes experienced in a school located in the Argentina-Bolivia border. The proposal was that children had to carry out participant observation, undertake interviews and elaborate visual records from the field notes collected in the border crossing.

One of the most significant conclusions is that children believe that the international bridge is an area of their own fragmented space. On the one hand, borders are in a certain way solid (flag, border patrol) and, on the other hand, they are artificial regarding geographic continuity (river, animals, tree roots). Space fragmentation is physical and symbolic; it is already constructed but it still has material existence; it is remarked but it still is a "continuous otherness", an otherness that is part.

This experience has also suggested an approximation of children towards the work of an anthropologist as it significantly framed the ethnographic work and approached this topic which is sometimes difficult and insufficient to deal with from discourse. This investigation resulted in an educational experience which may, curiously, leave marks in children's identification processes.

Panel P100
Learning of/with children: anthropologist at "school" (CLOSED) (Commission on Children, Youth and Childhood)