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Synopsis

The use of child soldiers in the Sudan Civil War has shattered the accepted understanding of why children join armies. Thousands of children signed up to participate in Africa’s longest running civil war, yet so far the international community and the academic world have viewed them as victims rather than participants. In this groundbreaking new study, Christine Emily Ryan challenges preconceptions which have held back aid work and reconstruction in the Sudan region. Using face-to-face testimonies of former child soldiers, Ryan illuminates the multi-dimensional motivations which children have for joining the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and unravels the complexity of their political participation. At the same time, interviews with NGO personnel illustrate the gap that exists between the West and the reality of conflict in Africa. With over 100 interviews with former child soldiers and NGO workers, and based on extensive and independent fieldwork in Sudan itself, Children of War posits a new way of approaching both the concept of the child in conflict zones, and empowers the child soldiers themselves as actors and participants in history. Children of War provides a powerful critique of the position taken by the international community, NGOs and academia to the phenomenon of child soldiers, and calls for a new approach to conflict resolution in Africa.

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