Life on the Malecon, Life on the Malecon, 0813562872, 0-8135-6287-2, 978-0-8135-6287-2, 9780813562872, , Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, Life on the Malecon, 0813562880, 0-8135-6288-0, 978-0-8135-6288-9, 9780813562889, , Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, Life on the Malecon, 0813562899, 0-8135-6289-9, 978-0-8135-6289-6, 9780813562896, , Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, Life on the Malecon, 081357031X, 0-8135-7031-X, 978-0-8135-7031-0, 9780813570310, , Rutgers Series in Childhood Studie
Life on the Malecón

Children and Youth on the Streets of Santo Domingo
Jon M. Wolseth
240 pages, 6 x 9
Paper, October 2013 $30.95   ADD TO CART
Cloth, October 2013 $88.00   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, October 2013 $30.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
epub, October 2013 $30.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Series: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
Subject Area:
Anthropology, Childhood Studies, Latin American Studies


Life on the Malecón is a narrative ethnography of the lives of street children and youth living in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the non-governmental organizations that provide social services for them. Writing from the perspective of an anthropologist working as a street educator with a child welfare organization, Jon M. Wolseth follows the intersecting lives of children, the institutions they come into contact with, and the relationships they have with each other, their families, and organization workers.

Often socioeconomic conditions push these children to move from their homes to the streets, but sometimes they themselves may choose the allure of the perceived freedoms and opportunities that street life has to offer. What they find, instead, is violence, disease, and exploitation—the daily reality through which they learn to maneuver and survive. Wolseth describes the stresses, rewards, and failures of the organizations and educators who devote their resources to working with this population.

The portrait of Santo Domingo’s street children and youth population that emerges is of a diverse community with variations that may be partly related to skin color, gender, and class. The conditions for these youth are changing as the economy of the Dominican Republic changes. Although the children at the core of this book live and sleep on avenues and plazas and in abandoned city buildings, they are not necessarily glue- and solvent-sniffing beggars or petty thieves on the margins of society. Instead, they hold a key position in the service sector of an economy centered on tourism.

Life on the Malecón offers a window into the complex relationships children and youth construct in the course of mapping out their social environment. Using a child-centered approach, Wolseth focuses on the social lives of the children by relating the stories that they themselves tell as well as the activities he observes.


"The stories Wolseth tells are compelling. The children’s voices challenge readers to rethink one-sided views about poor street youth and encourage them to adopt more nuanced approaches to poor kids ‘choices.’ Brilliant work!"
—Martha K. Huggins, Tulane University

Author / Editor Bio

JON M. WOLSETH, PhD, has published widely on the intersection of violence, marginality, and adolescence in Latin America, including Jesus and the Gang: Youth Violence and Christianity in Urban Honduras.

Table Of Contents


Structural Forces Impacting Young Lives
Children as Cultural Agents
Structure and Agency on Dominican Streets
Organization of Book
Methods: The Anthropologist as Outreach Educator

1. Outreach Work
Living and Sleeping on the Malecon
Crying Wolf
Going Home
The First Hurdle
Telling the Truth
Back on the Conde

2. Structural Conditions
Finding Panchito
Entering Rehab
Maria's Condition
Going to Prison
Off the Streets

3. Friendship and Everyday Violence on the Street
Conflict Resolution




Dominican Racial Imaginary
Milagros Ricourt
Hidden Genocides
Alexander Laban Hinton, Thomas La Pointe, Douglas Irvin-Erickson
Revolutionizing Romance
Nadine T Fernandez
Youth, Crime, and Justice
Clayton A Hartjen