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Sweet Battlefields: Youth and the Liberian Civil War
Uppsala universitet, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Historisk-filosofiska fakulteten, Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi, Kulturantropologiska avdelningen.
2003 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, monografi (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation presents an ethnography of youth in Liberia and of how their lives became affected by a civil war which raged in the country between 1990 and 1997. The focus is on the experiences, motivations, and reflections of young combatants who fought for a variety of rebel factions. For these young people, the daily prospect of poverty, joblessness and marginalisation effectively blocked the paths to a normal adulthood; drawing them instead into a subculture of liminality, characterised by abjection, resentment and rootlessness. As opportunity came, their voluntary enlistment into one of the several rebel armies of the civil war therefore became an attractive option for many. Based upon one year of fieldwork during 1998, conducted among groups of ex-combatant youths in both the capital Monrovia and in a provincial town in the rural hinterland, I describe and analyse the young people’s own accounts of their involvement in the civil war; their complicity in atrocities, their coping strategies in the context of armed conflict, their position as ex-combatants in a post-war environment, and their outlook on their past, present and future.

In the first chapter I set the scene of the Liberian civil war and discuss the central concepts on which my dissertation is built. Chapter two then takes up the methodological issues relating to the particular fieldwork conditions found. This is done by providing an account of my participant observation within a volatile community of ex-combatants in Monrovia. Chapter three deals with the nature of pre-civil war Liberian political and military organisational structures and their rootedness in pre-state institutions such as local warlordism and secret societies. In chapter four I look at the cultural setting of my fieldwork and track elements found within the legacy of violence, to oral literature and patterns of socialisation. Chapter five focuses specifically on the role and predicament of young women in the civil war. Whilst some became active fighters, most participated as auxiliaries in various capacities. Their accounts convey not only the tremendous hardship and suffering, but also reveal mechanisms which helped at least some to survive. In chapter six I discuss the question of a post-war reintegration of ex-combatants into peacetime society and show that the prospects of different groups depend primarily on their social and geographical situation, rather than on the negligible effectiveness of aid programmes routinely executed by international organisations and NGOs.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Uppsala: Kulturantropologiska avdelningen , 2003. , s. 288
Serie
Dissertations in cultural anthropology: DICA, ISSN 1651-7601 ; 1
Nyckelord [en]
Cultural anthropology, Liberia, anthropology, civil war, youth, children, child soldiers, street children, conflict, violence, women in war, West Africa, liminality
Nyckelord [sv]
Kulturantropologi
Nationell ämneskategori
Etnologi Socialantropologi
Forskningsämne
Kulturantropologi
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3483ISBN: 91-506-1677-3 (tryckt)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3483DiVA, id: diva2:163000
Disputation
2003-06-07, 1022, Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi, Uppsala, 13:15
Opponent
Handledare
Tillgänglig från: 2003-05-15 Skapad: 2003-05-15 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-01-25Bibliografiskt granskad

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