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Years of Conflict

Years of Conflict: Adolescence, Political Violence and Displacement

Edited by Jason Hart
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Years of Conflict
    Book Description:

    Recent years have witnessed a significant growth of interest in the consequences of political violence and displacement for the young. However, when speaking of "children" commentators have often taken the situation of those in early and middle childhood as representative of all young people under eighteen years of age. As a consequence, the specific situation of adolescents negotiating the processes of transition towards social adulthood amidst conditions of violence and displacement is commonly overlooked. Years of Conflict provides a much-needed corrective. Drawing upon perspectives from anthropology, psychology, and media studies as well as the insights of those involved in programmatic interventions, it describes and analyses the experiences of older children facing the challenges of daily life in settings of conflict, post-conflict and refuge. Several authors also reflect upon methodological issues in pursuing research with young people in such settings. The accounts span the globe, taking in Liberia, Afghanistan, South Africa, Peru, Jordan, UK/Western Europe, Eastern Africa, Iran, USA, and Colombia.

    This book will be invaluable to those seeking a fuller understanding of conflict and displacement and its effects upon adolescents. It will also be welcomed by practitioners concerned to develop more effective ways of providing support to this group.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-054-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Jo Boyden
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Jason Hart

    Over the past decade and a half increasing attention has been paid to the consequences of armed conflict for the young. Even prior to the publication of Graca Machel’s landmark report to the United Nations in 1996, scholars were seeking to understand the impact of conflict, particularly upon the psychological well-being of children (Machel, 1996). Much of this work was informed by the emerging discourse of trauma and tended to focus on the damage done to the young by exposure to violence and displacement (e. g. Garbarino et al., 1991; Quota et al., 1995; Macksoud and Aber, 1996).

    The post-Machel...


    • 1 Reconstructing Adolescence after Displacement: Experience from Eastern Africa
      (pp. 23-37)
      Hirut Tefferi

      This chapter explores the impact of armed conflict and displacement on adolescents in eastern Africa. It asks how dramatic changes brought about by war and forced migration affect the traditional ideas and practices surrounding adolescence and thereby influence the actual lives of young people. It is based on my extensive experience as a female psychologist from Ethiopia working with war-affected children since the late 1980s. My work has taken me to Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, southern Sudan and northern Uganda. By writing about eastern Africa, I am aware of the fact that I am dealing with a large geographical area...

    • 2 Doing Nothing and Being Good: Social Relationships and Networks of Support among Adolescent Congolese Refugees in Dar es Salaam
      (pp. 38-57)
      Gillian Mann

      In 2003, it was estimated that almost one million refugees were living in Tanzania, most of whom had fled the ongoing civil conflicts in Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).¹ The large majority of these displaced people live in the western part of the country, where Tanzanian government policy requires all refugees to live in camps or settlements. A very small number of refugees are given permission to live in Dar es Salaam, a city of approximately three million on the Indian Ocean coast. Permits to live in the city are usually granted on a short-term basis, for...

    • 3 Growing Up in Exile: Psychosocial Challenges Facing Refugee Youth in the United States
      (pp. 58-86)
      Kenneth E. Miller, Hallie Kushner, Jill McCall, Zoë Martell and Madhur Kulkarni

      Much of what is known about the mental health effects of political violence and forced migration on children and adolescents comes from cross-sectional studies assessing symptoms of psychological distress (Arroyo and Eth, 1986; Kinzie et al., 1986, 1989; Ajdukovic and Ajdukovic, 1993; Hubbard et al., 1995; Mghir and Raskin, 1999; Thabet and Vostanis, 2000; Smith et al., 2002). This approach has contributed significantly to our understanding of the patterns of mental health difficulties that are seen, to varying degrees, among refugee youth. We know, for example, that trauma symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive memories of traumatic events and insomnia, often...


    • 4 Political Transition and Youth Violence in Post-apartheid South Africa: In Search of Understanding
      (pp. 89-110)
      Andrew Dawes

      It has often been suggested that the violence learnt by youth in a war or political struggle, and the psychological trauma they have experienced are likely to threaten prospects for peace and non-violence in the post-conflict society. In the run-up to the transition from apartheid to democracy, South Africans began to speak of ‘lost generations’ of young people who would emerge from the conflict as ‘unsocialised’ and with a propensity for violence that would threaten the social order of the post conflict period (Chikane, 1986; Dawes, 1994b; Reynolds, 1995). Similar concerns have been expressed in other theatres of political struggle,...

    • 5 Abject Heroes: Marginalised Youth, Modernity and Violent Pathways of the Liberian Civil War
      (pp. 111-138)
      Mats Utas

      As in numerous other African conflicts, the participation of large numbers of adolescent as combatants was crucial to the emergence and development of the Liberian Civil War (1990–96, 2000–3). In order to understand this war we must therefore give careful consideration to the motivations of these youth and the nature of their involvement. This article discusses why and how young men participated in the war.1 Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Liberia during 19982 it explains how renderings of modernity, traditional myths of violent heroes and masking behaviour were all significant elements in youth participation in that country’s civil war. The...

    • 6 UNHCR and the Military Recruitment of Adolescents
      (pp. 139-162)
      Hanne Beirens

      Recent years have witnessed increasing activity by human rights activists and humanitarian agencies to end underage recruitment. In spite of this, our understanding of the reasons why young people enrol and how they make sense of their experiences as combatants remains very limited. Concern about the malign effects of soldiering and certain conceptualisations of childhood and child development have both foreclosed consideration by humanitarian agencies of the processes by which adolescents, in particular, come to take up arms. In this chapter I explore how one such agency – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (henceforth UNHCR) – has conceptualised underage recruitment....


    • 7 The Long Road Home: Adolescent Afghan Refugees in Iran Contemplate ‘Return’
      (pp. 165-187)
      Homa Hoodfar

      Children and adolescents constitute the majority of the over two million Afghan refugees Iran has hosted since the 1980s. During this period Iran and Pakistan between them received more refugees than any other nations.2 Neither Iranian authorities nor Afghan community leaders have paid much attention to this particular constituency. For most of the period in exile it was assumed that refugee children and adolescents would attend Iranian schools and be educated by the host country, eventually returning to Afghanistan as the situation there improved. Given the shared linguistic and – to a large degree – cultural/historical framework, this policy appeared...

    • 8 Dislocated Masculinity: Adolescence and the Palestinian Nation-in-exile
      (pp. 188-206)
      Jason Hart

      In his seminal study of nationalism, Benedict Anderson observed that ‘in the modern world everyone can, should, will “have” a nationality, as he or she “has” a gender’ (1991: 5). Over the past two decades numerous authors have brought these two themes together, exploring the relationship between nation and gender across diverse contexts (e. g. Yuval-Davis and Anthias, 1989; Kandiyoti, 1991; Parker et al., 1992; McClintock et al., 1997; Yuval-Davis, 1997). This work has commonly considered the constructedness of dominant accounts of gender within different nationalisms. Thus, the representation of gendered roles and practices as the immutable expression of biologically...


    • 9 The Challenges of Programming with Youth in Afghanistan
      (pp. 209-229)
      Joanna de Berry

      Youth in any culture lead complex lives. With the end of childhood come additional choices and responsibilities, priorities and decisions. Conflict, and the political and social upheaval this brings with it, only adds to the challenges they must face, the risks that must be negotiated, and the responsibilities that may be given or taken. Programming that aims to support war-affected youth through times of conflict must take into account the complexity of their lives if it is really to engage with them and create a positive impact. Commonly, however, in designing and implementing projects for war-affected youth there is not...

    • 10 Adolescence and Armed Conflict in Colombia: ‘Resilience’ as a Construction Emerging within Psychosocial Work
      (pp. 230-252)
      Diana Isabel Alvis Palma

      The involvement of young people in armed conflict is a subject of global concern. In the effort to understand the specific situation of adolescents, experience from Colombia may be especially valuable. In this chapter I describe the political, sociocultural and psychological situation of adolescents in my country, their involvement in the armed conflict, and the efforts currently being made to support them. I particularly wish to reflect upon the approach to psychosocial assistance, highlighting resilience as a core practice. As I shall explain, I understand ‘resilience’ as a construction that emerges when people affected by socio-political violence, the organisations that...


    • 11 Participatory Research with War-affected Adolescents and Youth: Lessons Learnt from Fieldwork with Youth Gangs in Ayacucho, Peru
      (pp. 255-276)
      Cordula Strocka

      In this chapter, I shall discuss the challenges, pitfalls and possible benefits involved in doing participatory research with adolescents and youths in the context of armed conflict and political violence. I shall present some of the lessons learnt during long-term field research with youth gangs in Ayacucho, a region situated in the central-southern part of the Peruvian Andes. The research was carried out in Huamanga, the capital of Ayacucho, with the participation of about a hundred, predominantly male, members of six local youth gangs.

      The assertive statement cited above is taken from an interview with Martín, a 24-year-old youth gang...

    • 12 The Place to Be? Making Media with Young Refugees
      (pp. 277-297)
      Liesbeth de Block

      There are two dominant discourses running through discussions about young refugees in the U. K. The first situates them as unwelcome residents. They are portrayed in the media as potentially criminal, on the edge of society, as excluded and excludable, needing to be socialised and required to cut their ties with their places of origin and become fully British. The priority is to educate them into the British way of life and values. The second discourse situates them as for ever only partially resident. They are victims of circumstance, troubled by past experiences and unchangingly belonging to that place of...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 298-302)
  12. Index
    (pp. 303-324)