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Title: Life after guns : the life chances and trajectories of ex-combatant and other post-war youth in Monrovia, Liberia
Author: Hardgrove, Abby V.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is about the life chances and trajectories of ex-combatant and other youth in post-war Monrovia, Liberia. In it I present the results of a qualitative inquiry into the relationship between shifting structural conditions and youth agency in the aftermath of 14 years of civil war. Much of the literature concerned with ex-combatant “reintegration” remains a-theoretical and fails to situate their experience within the contours of transition from structures in armed groups to structures in post-war society. It is rife with normative assumptions about how ex-combatants should “return” to civilian life. The ex-combatant trajectories detailed in this study challenge this literature reflecting neither “reintegration” nor “return.” Instead, they highlight how ex-combatants negotiate a complex environment in which structural norms, values, and relationships converge and conflict after war. To demonstrate this, the thesis presents an analysis of the relationships between structural constraints and youth agency among youth who fought, and others who did not. In so doing, it provides a situated analysis of post-war society which is often missing in the literature concerned with ex-combatants. The empirical material shows the significance of interdependent relationships at the level of the family and the household. It is “wealth in people” at this proximate level that supports survival and enables socio-economic mobility, with implications for social respect. Without patronage through family and kin, socio-economic possibilities diminish significantly. This means that options available to many ex-combatants are limited after war, as they are often unable or unwilling to be incorporated into families and former communities. Their navigation of the post-war social terrain reflects efforts to survive and maintain respect through patrimonial relationships within and outside of their structured networks from war. Some retain the status and respect they achieved in war through relationships maintained from their years of conflict. Others were able to survive and achieve respect through new or renewed relationships with families and extended kin. Life chances and trajectories emerge from embedded positions within structured social relations that are produced and reproduced in the aftermath of conflict. With this work, I argue that social processes are vital to any theorisation about life after war.
Supervisor: Boyden, Jo; Chatty, Dawn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International Development ; Youth ; Liberia ; Ex-combatants ; Post-war