Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Gabriela Cabaña (LSE)
In the last decades, several governments in Latin America have implemented social policies that fulfill both a welfare role for the poor, while also departing from the long standing assistencialism, under the paradigms of development of capacities (Sen); human development (UNDP) or human capital formation for present and future generations. A range of these programs seek the consolidation of the entrepreneurial self as the way to improve their citizens’ quality of life. Specifically, they work with and through women as the subjects and recipients of policies, while they are also expected to attain expectations in terms of care, provision and nutrition of family members mainly, but not only, of children.
Based on ethnographic research with Mapuche women living in rural communities in Chile, in this paper we explore how the logics of accumulation (of human capital in this case) are resignified and appropriated by participants of programs devoted to women’s entrepreneurship -while caregivers- in ways that do not necessarily subvert the official objectives of the policy but generate other spaces/subjectivities/life projects. What forms of accumulation are made possible through these programs? How do they participate in a broader ecosystem, for example of immediate surroundings or community reality? How does the logic of accumulation present in these programs contrast with care practices in which women are involved in their daily lives? We analyze these questions in the framework of the future perspectives, aspirations and desires of the women with whom we work, and their families.