On and off the street and somewhere in between: identity performance among adolescents living on (and off) the streets of Lima, Peru
In this dissertation I present data gathered from an eleven-month qualitative research study with adolescents living and working on the streets of Lima, Peru. Through the pairing of photovoice with participant observations, this work incorporates distinctive methodological and theoretical viewpoints in order to complicate prevailing understandings of street life. In this dissertation, I examine the identities that children and adolescents on the street develop in context, and the ways in which photography can be a useful tool in understanding identity development among this population. Through a framework integrating theories of identity and identity performance with spatial theories, I outline how identity development among children and adolescents living on the street is directly connected to their relationships with the urban landscape and the outreach organizations that serve them. The organizations and institutions that surround children on the street shape who they are, how they are perceived by society, and how they view and understand themselves in context. It is through the interaction with aid organizations and the urban landscape that a street identity is learned and developed. Furthermore, as organizations, children and adolescents come together within the context of the city, a unique street space is created. I argue that identity and agency are directly tied to this space. I also present the street as a thirdspace of possibility, where children and adolescents are able to act out various aspects of the self that they would be unable to pursue otherwise. Weaved throughout this dissertation are non-traditional writing forms including narrative and critical personal narrative addressing my own experiences conducting this research, my impact on the research context, and how I understand the data gathered.