The emotional labor of former street children working as tour guides in Delhi

in Focaal

In Delhi, former street children guide tourists around the streets they once inhabited and show how the NGOs they live with try to resocialize current street children. The “personal stories” they perform implicitly advocate simple solutions that conveniently fit the limited engagement of the tourists, whose ethical position is thereby validated in relation to the NGO. But this uncomplicated exchange of guides’ emotions for tourists’ capital is in the guides’ interest, because it allows them to set boundaries for the emotional labor of performing their past suffering. The guides are thus incentivized to work within a post-humanitarian logic, selling their stories as commodities, which then incentivize the tourists to act as consumers, who have little choice but to frame their declarations of solidarity with the children as acts of consumption.