This chapter begins with the author's account of the life of child runaway Muhammad Nabil. It then sets out the book's purpose, which is to examine not only what makes a child leave home, but what makes children in certain situations likely to leave home; and further, what are those situations and configurations that tend to produce this likely departure, and why and how widely are they shared. It seeks to make sense of whether it is culture, tradition, or rite, on the one hand, that generates child departure or, alternatively, the political-economic forces embedded in history, debt, and rule—or both. If running away is to be taken as an existing cultural form that children may mobilize or manifest, a blueprint that they follow, then a secondary question becomes how is information—instructions, methods, practices, itineraries—transmitted peer to peer or through public texts and images.
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