Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1



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 paper was written for Professor Amy Evrard's course, Anthropology 304: Anthropology of Violence and Conflict.