Masculinities and Child Soldiers in Post Conflict Socieities
MASCULINITIES AND THE LAW: A MULTIDIMENSIONAL APPROACH, Cooper F., McGinley A., eds., NYU Press, Forthcoming
Posted: 30 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 28, 2010
Masculinities discourses and theory have begun to transform scholarly and practical understandings of the methods and means of warfare, as well as on teasing out the causalities of war and the means to bring about an end to public communal violence between male combatants. In the context of post-conflict, peacemaking and transitional discourses, however, attention to masculinities has been much less evident. Our contribution seeks to remedy that gap by bringing the theory and practice of masculinities discourses to bear on these fields. The chapter will rebut the general presumptions that masculinities disappear at the formal ending of hostilities and during the peacemaking phase of conflict. Rather, masculinities are ever present and deeply problematic to ensuring successful outcomes with a sustainable peace. In particular, we suggest that hypermasculinity maintains its presence in post-conflict societies -- and is particularly manifest in the experiences of violence in the private sphere for women and the increases in criminality and 'ordinary' violence in transitional societies. The specific site of our exploration will be male and female child soldiers. Such groups present particular challenges to post conflict reconciliation, and occupy a unique space of both victim and perpetrator. We argue that DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) and accountability processes have generally failed to account for the emergence of masculinities in violent childhoods, and the 'making of the man' in these contexts has long terms effects for the stability and peacefulness of a conflicted society. The intergenerational transmission of problematic masculinity norms, ought to be more clearly placed in the discourses of transition and peacemaking. The chapter focuses on developing positive gender roles for young men and women who have been egregiously violent, and who have equally been deeply violated.
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