The emotional labour of former street children working as tourist guides in Delhi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In Delhi, India, former street children guide visiting tourists around the streets that they used to inhabit, and show how the NGO they work for try to resocialise current street children. The article analyses how the guides shape and co-perform their ‘personal stories’ with the tourists on these ‘City Walks’, and conclude that their stories simplify the causes and effects of their problems. The stories implicitly advocate simple solutions that conveniently fit the limited engagement of the visiting tourists, whose ethical position is thereby validated in relation to the NGO. The guides’ performances thereby produce a comfortable space, where the transference of emotions and capital is made uncomplicated. Interviews with the guides reveal, however, that it is also in the interest of the guides to create such a space, because it allows them the opportunity to set boundaries for their own emotional involvement, in the performance of their past suffering. The guides are thus incentivised to work within a neoliberal logic where they are situated as emotional labourers selling their stories as commodities, and these stories then crate an incentive for the tourists to act as consumers, who have little choice but to frame their declarations of solidarity with the street children as acts of consumptions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFocaal - European Journal for Anthropology
ISSN0920-1297
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jan 2018

Cite this

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title = "The emotional labour of former street children working as tourist guides in Delhi",
abstract = "In Delhi, India, former street children guide visiting tourists around the streets that they used to inhabit, and show how the NGO they work for try to resocialise current street children. The article analyses how the guides shape and co-perform their ‘personal stories’ with the tourists on these ‘City Walks’, and conclude that their stories simplify the causes and effects of their problems. The stories implicitly advocate simple solutions that conveniently fit the limited engagement of the visiting tourists, whose ethical position is thereby validated in relation to the NGO. The guides’ performances thereby produce a comfortable space, where the transference of emotions and capital is made uncomplicated. Interviews with the guides reveal, however, that it is also in the interest of the guides to create such a space, because it allows them the opportunity to set boundaries for their own emotional involvement, in the performance of their past suffering. The guides are thus incentivised to work within a neoliberal logic where they are situated as emotional labourers selling their stories as commodities, and these stories then crate an incentive for the tourists to act as consumers, who have little choice but to frame their declarations of solidarity with the street children as acts of consumptions.",
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The emotional labour of former street children working as tourist guides in Delhi. / Holst, Tore Elias Harsløf Mukherjee.

In: Focaal - European Journal for Anthropology, 15.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AB - In Delhi, India, former street children guide visiting tourists around the streets that they used to inhabit, and show how the NGO they work for try to resocialise current street children. The article analyses how the guides shape and co-perform their ‘personal stories’ with the tourists on these ‘City Walks’, and conclude that their stories simplify the causes and effects of their problems. The stories implicitly advocate simple solutions that conveniently fit the limited engagement of the visiting tourists, whose ethical position is thereby validated in relation to the NGO. The guides’ performances thereby produce a comfortable space, where the transference of emotions and capital is made uncomplicated. Interviews with the guides reveal, however, that it is also in the interest of the guides to create such a space, because it allows them the opportunity to set boundaries for their own emotional involvement, in the performance of their past suffering. The guides are thus incentivised to work within a neoliberal logic where they are situated as emotional labourers selling their stories as commodities, and these stories then crate an incentive for the tourists to act as consumers, who have little choice but to frame their declarations of solidarity with the street children as acts of consumptions.

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