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Beyond Child Soldiering: Children as Creative Entrepreneurs in Contexts of Violence in Colombia

Roshani, N; (2018) Beyond Child Soldiering: Children as Creative Entrepreneurs in Contexts of Violence in Colombia. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Children in Colombia have engaged in chronic warfare since before the country’s foundation. However, current policy and intervention models targeting war-affected children in Colombia have been designed and implemented through the narrow scope of child recruitment, disregarding other dynamics of the war and representing child combatants as one-dimensional victims. Many young combatants outside the recognised armed forces are excluded from interventions and forms of support granted to child soldiers. Children residing in areas of armed conflict or other prolonged situations of violence often become perpetrators (Boyden & de Berry, 2004; Kuper, 2005; Rosen, 2005). Recent studies present evidence that many children participate in conflict of their own volition, utilising creativity and resilience to improve their circumstances (Rosen, 2005; Honwana, 2006; Hart, 2006; Rosen, 2007; Poretti, 2008; Mayall & Morrow, 2011). This study builds on these analyses by exploring the perspectives of young people with varying forms of engagement in conflict beyond child soldiering in the Colombian conflict. Utilising a combination of creative qualitative methods in workshops with young people, including audio-visual activities, capoeira, and dancing, enabled me to collect data on their responses to violence in two contrasting communities in Cali and Medellín. In learning about the trajectories of children’s lives under conditions of protracted violence and economic uncertainty in a fragmented context, this study analyses in two locations the ways young people have negotiated their daily responsibilities and developed survival strategies while employing their agency when navigating multidimensional types of violence. The analysis reveals young people’s realities and responses to interconnected forms of violence and inequalities in Colombia examining their experiences of direct engagement with violence and the structural uncertainties resulting from the protracted conflict, and how memory is used in relation to the fragmented contexts of their lives. The findings pointed to the link between the various dynamics of their participation in contexts of violence in Colombia as they shift between roles and identities beyond child soldiering; and how young people maximise opportunities and resist limiting conditions by employing their resilience as creative entrepreneurs. The thesis concludes on the one hand that it is not feasible to examine children’s engagement in the Colombian war only through the lens of child soldiering as a phenomenon on its own. On the other hand, it argues that children are not just tactical agents—making strategic decisions based on resources available to them (Honwana, 2006)—but also use their creativity and entrepreneurial agency shifting among myriad identities and roles, earning privileges and power and resisting exclusion, inequality and their limiting circumstances.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Beyond Child Soldiering: Children as Creative Entrepreneurs in Contexts of Violence in Colombia
Event: UCL (Univerity College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis. Images identifying individuals have been redacted or partially redacted to protect their identity.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10046878
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