Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Literary and Cultural Studies
This paper will serve as an examination of the experiences of child soldiers in sub-Saharan Africa. Using autobiography as the central medium of analysis, I will examine the experiences of selected child soldiers, taking particular note of their self-analysis (such as their commentary on agency, culpability, and identity formation) and their interactions with the military or paramilitary organizations that have recruited them. I will focus on why or how the individuals came to be child soldiers, the experiences they had as soldiers, the difficulties of reintegration post-conflict, and the lingering effects of what they have witnessed and done. My hope is to draw conclusions about the psychosocial impact of the selected conflicts, ultimately arguing that these conclusions are less ambiguous and estranged than those which might be developed through other disciplines. Grounding myself in narrative analysis, complemented by psychology and political science, I will approach the autobiography with a dual humanities/social sciences approach. I will illustrate how the autobiographies of African child soldiers are windows to conflict in continental Africa. In addition, I will demonstrate the value of autobiographical data within peace and conflict studies. These sources have been under-used in international relations, becoming linked to the larger issues of Western ignorance and marginalization of broad-scale wars being waged in Africa. However, they provide new insight into hidden societies and allow a stark analysis of the effect of war on individuals, and thus on conflict-ridden societies.
Tompkins, Elizabeth H., "Synthesizing Narrative Analysis with Peace and Conflict Studies: The Case of African Child Soldier Autobiographies" (2013). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 579.
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