An Anthropologist and Children in a Street War with Social Exclusion : Confessions from Fieldwork
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The author discusses the issue of social exclusion from an anthropological point of view, incorporating into it elements of both feminist and biomedical discourse. She argues for the universal vulnerability of every human body as well as for the universality of certain features and mechanisms of social exclusion entwined within the experience of trauma. Drawing on the concept of ‘misfitting’ borrowed from the feminist theory of vulnerability, she explores trajectories of socially excluded bodies caught up in a vicious circle of violence. In her view, the only valid way to break this circle is to evoke empathy in human beings by means of a visceral rather than intellectual approach. “Embodied cognition” as a means of fighting social exclusion is a case in point of this approach. The arguments presented in the paper are based on the author’s fieldwork experiences among street children in Tanzania, which have inextricably intermingled with her own lifespan trajectory. Keywords social exclusion, misfitting, everyday trauma, embodied cognition, racism, empathy.
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