Karen J. Norris '14, Gettysburg College
Student Research Paper
Date of Creation
This project examines the language of child-soldiering in Africa, specifically in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda, comparing its use between Western observers and the Africans who experienced the conflict first hand. It concludes that Westerners unilaterally display ethnocentric conceptions of the sanctity of childhood in their admonitions of child-soldiering, while former child-soldiers, perpetrators, victims and local aid workers exhibit more diverse perspectives that more accurately reflect the complexity of the conflicts. Furthermore, it concludes that the use of rhetorical, monolithic language regarding child-soldiering perpetuates stereotypes about African conflict and state-failure while diverting attention from underlying root causes of conflict, and overlooks government corruption and human rights abuses that have gone largely unchecked by Western nations despite their condemnation of the violence.
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Norris, Karen J., "“Little Soldiers with Big Guns”: The Language of Child-Soldiering in Africa" (2014). Student Publications. 233.
African Studies Commons, Defense and Security Studies Commons, Linguistic Anthropology Commons, Military and Veterans Studies Commons, Peace and Conflict Studies Commons, Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons