chapter  5
Growing up between places of work and non-places of childhood: the uneasy relationship
ByOLGA NIEUWENHUYS
Pages 20

The way anthropology has conceptualised place is no doubt linked to its main preoccupation with the ‘here and now’, and the problem of delineating the spatial, temporal and symbolic fieldwork area. The consequence has been that socially important public centres, as well as meeting points and itineraries, have by and large been chosen as markers of place, to the neglect of the unremarkable places where everyday life is carried out. Place has tended to reflect dominant power relations and to obfuscate what happens behind the official façade in what are, for the anthropologist, often fuzzy, inconspicuous or inaccessible private places. This may help explain anthropology’s traditional neglect of children’s places. However, turning the approach upside down by looking at place from the perspective of children may carry the danger of implicit assumptions about the nature of childhood slipping into research. These assumptions are related to urban middle-class values that inform the anthropologists’ gaze and that may, if left unquestioned, distort the perceived world.