"When the sun rises, I sleep" the ambiguities of public sleep among young Brazilians on the street

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Author: Marit Ursin
Date: Fall 2017
From: Journal of Anthropological Research(Vol. 73, Issue 3)
Publisher: University of New Mexico
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 189 words

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Abstract :

This article draws on six periods of fieldwork in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, stretching over a decade. Sleep ethnographies are explored through 24-hour participant observation among a specific street population and narrative interviews with 12 young men. The empirical material shows how sleeping on the street means making conscious choices and continuous risk negotiations, seeking to reduce risk of attacks, abductions, and homicides while being most vulnerable. The safety strategies employed demonstrate the ambiguities of sleeping in public, revealing how co-sleeping is both a way of seeking safety and a source of risk, how sleeping in the public gaze is perceived as comforting by some and detested by others, and why darkness and silence are desired by most, but sunrise and movement are preferred by some. The street dwellers' relationships with peers, passersby, and police are in constant flux, and the places they appropriate for sleep are shaped by time and social relationships. The article concludes that the sleep patterns are responses to as well as reinforce the ambiguities of the wider social, spatial, and temporal dimensions of street life. Key words: street children/youth, homelessness, sleep, fear, safety, public space

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A504460437