My PhD research investigates the dominant constructions and representations of child poverty and vulnerability and poor and vulnerable children in Kenya, as embedded in policies and programmes. Through these constructions, some particular truths may be legitimated in understanding child poverty and vulnerability and poor and vulnerable children respectively. Such constructions may sometimes elide the voice of children, and the attendant ways of being a child they offer, may sometimes be problematic. These representations will be investigated for the case of Kenya more generally, and for Siaya County more specifically.
I am utilizing the concept of cartography as both a heuristic and substantive, analytical, methodological and/ ontological tool for this research. This will involves mapping the dominant understandings within and /or against lived realities of children from three interrelated perspectives. One; the way they relate to the lived experience of children, two; how they may affect the everyday spaces of children and three; how children may create interstices within the dominant cartographies by engaging with the way they are positioned in these interventions.
In contributing to policy, practice and theory, the research hopes to produce a reading of children’s embodied experiences, agency and creativity in responding to, or navigating the dominant representations and their experience of poverty as minority politics. I assume that actions by children and their lived experience may act as interstices thus potentially opening up space for ethical cartographies in engaging with child poverty and vulnerability.
In addition, by exploring the silences and the processes that may be involved in silencing children’s perspectives, the research also hopes to make a contribution to theorizing and practice on children’s voice, albeit one that goes beyond the articulated to that which is simultaneously ‘absenced’ or the ‘unsaid’.
The proposed study is located within the Anthropology of Childhood, Children’s Geographies, Ethnography of Aid and Child Poverty and Vulnerability.