Girls’ Work in a Rural Intercultural Setting

Formative Experiences and Identity in Peasant Childhood

in Girlhood Studies

In this article I explore the meaning of work for girls in rural northeastern Argentina as formative experience that forges their identity as peasants in the contemporary world. Based on ethnographic research conducted from 2008 to the present in rural areas of San Ignacio (Misiones), I examine, from the perspective of regulatory definitions regarding children’s work, the ways in which young girls gradually participate in the social reproduction of families. Girls’ participation in these activities should not be romanticized as part of a socialization process, but, rather, critically considered as formative experience in which class, age, gender, and ethnic distinctions define certain tasks as girls’ peasant skills. Using data from participant observations made on three farms, I show how girls have an active role in the appropriation of knowledge through shared activities with boys, although such learning is overshadowed by the prevailing socio-historic construct of male dominance.