This article recounts the story of the Bucareli boys, a group of street children in Mexico City who were also known as the banda of metro Juárez. Documenting the "Buca" boys over a period of three years allowed me to formulate three insights about the internal power differentiation in terms of leadership, gender, and age. These insights are valid as well, I think, for the other 15 bandas where I did fieldwork. First, it is important to place the dynamics of leadership and gender relations in an age perspective. Second, as structuring principles of street life, leadership, gender and age have an inherently evanescent character, due to an interplay of constraints that are both internal and external to the banda. My third suggestion concurs with Liebow in that homelessness creates a world of paradoxes and contradictions. Power differentiation among relatively powerless people is a contradiction in terms; and the dynamics of leadership, gender and age disclose paradoxical social ties within the banda. These can be particularly harrowing in the relations between street kids and the young adults posing as surrogate fathers and mothers. This ethnographic analysis of "crazy-making homelessness" is relevant for mental health. The kids' story-telling about leadership and gender relations veiled their fragility, since in these tales they attributed themselves a power which they did not have in reality. More than mere symptoms of psychopathology or a manipulative personality disorder, these stories testify to the creativity and resilience of these young people. The illusory power of the choros, the bullshit tales about street children, enables them to live in apparent harmony under the conditions in which they live.
|Translated title of the contribution||La banda and their choros: A group of street children narrating tales about leadership, gender and age|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|