Tobias Hecht

2002 Margaret Mead Award Recipient

Tobias Hecht, Ph.D. (1995, University of Cambridge) is the recipient of the 2002 Margaret Mead Award. Hecht’s ethnography, At Home in the Street: Street Children of Northeast Brazil (1998, Cambridge University Press) is a clear demonstration of how anthropological work can touch and engage a broader concerned public. Hecht’s work engaged not only academic audiences, but moved anthropological insights into the discourse of national and international agencies and political entities concerned with street children and their well-being. Demonstrating an exquisite sensitivity to his research “subjects,” Hecht did not patronize street children by speaking for them, but rather allowed their voices to direct an understanding of their daily lives, strengths and struggles. Collaborating with children, for example by providing access to his tape recorder to do their own “radio” workshops, stands as an exemplar of anthropological creativity and participatory research. Working with local volunteer agencies in Brazil, Hecht sought to inform rather than direct policy initiatives. In this impressive anthropological work, Hecht provides a carefully nuanced discussion of the ethics of working with such a marginalized group, clearly evidencing the respect that he accorded them.