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Child Soldiers: Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front

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Overview

"Tragically, violence and armed conflict have become commonplace in the lives of many children around the world. Not only have millions of children been forced to witness war and its atrocities, but many are drawn into conflict as active participants. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Sierra Leone during its 11-year civil war. Drawing upon in-depth interviews and focus groups with former child soldiers of Sierra Leone's rebel Revolutionary United Front, Myriam Denov compassionately examines how child soldiers are initiated into the complex world of violence and armed conflict. She also explores the ways in which the children leave this world of violence and the challenges they face when trying to renegotiate their lives and self-concepts in the aftermath of war. The narratives of the Sierra Leonean youth demonstrate that their life histories defy the narrow and limiting portrayals presented by the media and popular discourse"--Provided by publisher.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A captivating description of the abhorrent use of children as weapons in adult wars… Myriam Denov sheds light onto the daily challenges faced by children on the battlefield. She has captured the complexities of the child soldier issue through the unbelievable stories of Sierra Leonean youth. After reading this book you will realize that inaction is no longer an option, we must act now to eradicate the use of child soldiers in the world!”
Roméo Dallaire, Lieutenant-General (Retired); Project Leader, The Child Soldiers Initiative

“Denov’s work provides a shining example of too-seldom used participatory research methodology that actively involves those who are the focus of study – in this case, former child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Her lucid and scholarly exploration of processes of militarization and demilitarization is destined to become a prominent work among academics and practitioners in the field of child protection.”
Susan McKay, Professor of Women’s and International Studies, University of Wyoming

“When children speak and adults actually listen they make us think. No one who reads this remarkable book about the making and unmaking of child soldiers in Sierra Leone will remain unchanged. Taking children out of war is simple compared to the task of taking war out of children and, as this book brilliantly demonstrates, it is a task for which we are all responsible.”
Hon. Landon Pearson OC, Director, Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights, Carleton University, Canada

“Child Soldiers is a remarkable insight into the inner workings of armed groups in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 war. It is analytically sophisticated and based on solid and innovative field research. Denov’s work challenges conventional wisdom and will be an indispensable component in debates about children’s roles in recent conflicts. This book should become required reading for those interested in the study of child soldiers in civil wars.”
William Reno, Associate Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, Northwestern University

"Denov has provided an extremely valuable, detailed look at the process of the militarization of children during armed conflict. As she states, the RUF case is too specific to make grand generalizations about child soldiering globally. Her research does, however, add much-needed flesh and blood to the popular images of child soldiers that currently circulate in the international community."
Robert Tynes, University at Albany/SUNY, H-Human-Rights

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521693219
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Myriam Denov is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge where she was a Commonwealth Scholar. Her research and teaching interests lie in the area of children and youth at risk, with an emphasis on war-affected children and juvenile justice.

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Table of Contents

Map

Introduction Child soldiers, iconography and the (il)logic of extremes

Definitions and ambiguities: Defining 'child soldiers'

(Mis)undrrstanding militarized children: Portrayals and representations

The making and unmaking of child soldiers

Overview of the book

1 Children's involvement in war: The quandary of structure and agency

The contemporary reality of child soldiers

Child soldiers and structural forces

Child soldiers and agency

Child soldiers and the quandary of structure and agency

2 Recipe for rebellion: Civil war in Sierra Leone

Understanding war in Sierra Leone

The emergence of the Revolutionary United Front

Tracing war (1991-2002) and the long path to peace

3 Negotiating power: Research on and by child soldiers

On power, sensitive research and a participatory approach

Participant recruitment, data collection and analysis

Assessing a participatory approach

4 'Becoming RUF': The making of a child soldier

Pathway into violence and armed conflict

Reshaping reality and 'becoming RUF': Solidarity, role allocation and rewards

Understanding the RUF militarization process: Constructing a culture of violence

5 'Being RUF': Victimization, participation and resistance

Experiences of violence and armed conflict

'Being RUF': Identity construction in the culture of violence

6 'Put dey gon don': The unmaking of a child soldier

Pathways out of violence and armed conflict

Reshaping reality and 'becoming a civilian': Demilitarization and the process of unmaking

7 New battlefields

Structure and agency in the making and unmaking of child soldiers

Ambiguity, sweet sorrow and political action: The continued process of unmaking in post-conflict Sierra Leone

Looking ahead: The needs of former child soldiers and the integration of structure and agency

References

Index

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