Threads Of Everyday Violence: Childhood In An Urdu-Speaking Bihari Camp In Bangladesh

Afroze, Jiniya (2019). Threads Of Everyday Violence: Childhood In An Urdu-Speaking Bihari Camp In Bangladesh. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

This thesis explores children’s everyday experiences in an Urdu-speaking Bihari camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As members of the Bihari community, children and adults living in the camp are historically, ethnically, linguistically, and structurally marginalised. Examining the everyday lives of children and adults in a camp, this research illustrates how the concept of everyday violence plays out in children’s lives, and how children negotiate their agency in responding to everyday violence. Studies of children’s experiences of everyday violence and their agency in responding to it are still nascent in the field of Childhood Studies. Taking on board some of the contemporary discussions from the field relating to relational agency (Spyrou, 2018, 2019; Spyrou, Rosen and Cook, 2018; Abebe, 2019; Prout, 2019) and everyday violence (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois, 2004b; Wells et al., 2014; Maternowska et al., 2018; Pells et al., 2018), this thesis aims to contribute to this emerging body of literature by bringing out a nuanced understanding of children’s experiences of everyday violence and their negotiation of agency in relation to power in spaces, gender, and generation. Embracing an ethnographic approach, data was collected between April and November 2016, using a combination of participant observation, interviews, and discussions with 78 children and 54 adults in a Bihari camp. The thesis argues that central to discourses around the construction of childhood in the camp are ideas about the ‘good’ and ‘rotten’ child, which are closely linked to the concept of good/rotten spaces. Children’s use of spaces, aspirations for education and work, and responses to cultural norms/practices, therefore, intertwine with ideas about respectability which define, shape, and influence children’s experiences of everyday violence. While children’s opportunities are often compromised and constrained in relation to everyday power dynamics, children constantly contest and negotiate relationships of power. Overall, the subtlety and complexity of children’s experiences demand a more nuanced exploration of children’s social spaces (e.g. home, camp, streets, school, workplace), as well as the socio-structural factors (e.g. poverty, power relations/dynamics in gender and generation) which shape their lives in order to fully understand how experiences of everyday violence are threaded through the mundane social practices and minutiae of children’s everyday lives.

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