Seeking contributions for an edited volume on “African Childhoods: Peace-Building, Education and Development in the Youngest Continent” Editor: Marisa O. Ensor (;

Volume Concept

With 70 per cent of its people under the age of 30, Africa is the world’s youngest continent. Informed understandings of the implications of this so-called “youth bulge” have been hampered by the shortage of detailed research on the issue. Enquiry into the lives and social circumstances of children and youth around the world has increased significantly in recent decades, spearheaded by the emergence of a “social science of childhood” in the 1980s and the widespread ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This evolving focus of enquiry on children issues, however, has been largely confined to the Global North. The limited corpus of reliable research on Africa’s youngest citizens has tended to adopt a negative outlook. Some noteworthy exceptions notwithstanding, African youngsters have been largely characterized as either vulnerable victims of the frequent humanitarian crises that plague their homelands, or as violent militarized youth and “troubled” gang members. Young people‟s positive contributions to processes of conflict resolution, disaster management, and participatory human development in Africa are often ignored. While acknowledging the profound challenges associated with growing up in an environment of uncertainty and deprivation, African Childhoods sheds light on African children‟s often constructive engagement with a variety of societal conditions, adverse or otherwise, and their ability to positively influence their own lives and those of others.

Through a multidisciplinary approach, African Childhoods aims to counter one-sided dominant discursive representations of African children, and to contribute a more balanced examination of their lives and experiences. This volume will theorize and historicize the figure of the African child, situating the study of African children within contemporary cultural and global contexts. Chapters will examine the progress and challenges facing children and youth in the African continent, as well as in the diaspora, in a variety of contexts, attending especially to the relationships between local and global forces. Proposed contributions may examine any topic that situates African children and youth as a central theme and addresses normative constructions of African childhood(s).

The Chapters

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of the multiple experiences of African children
  • Racialized, ethnic, gender and class positionings/identities and the valuation of particular African childhoods as “good,” “bad” or “different”
  • Conceptualizations of normative/non-normative childhoods as codified in African law, policy, and governance
  • African children’s rights and forms of public and civic participation
  • Humanitarian crises, peace-building, (under)development and African children‟s participation
  • The lives of African children in fragile states and transitional societies
  • African children’s involvement in post-conflict reconstruction and transitional justice
  • African children (and their families) facing displacement within the African continent as well as in the diaspora
  • African children‟s access to education, health care, livelihood opportunities and adequate standards of living

Call for chapter abstracts

Interested contributors are asked to submit a 200 to 250-word abstract describing their proposed chapter to Marisa O. Ensor (, by January 15, 2011.

Chapter abstracts should include a title and a brief description of the issue(s) examined, the methodological and theoretical standpoints guiding the research, the main arguments made, and the general conclusions offered, as relevant.

Call for Chapter Abstracts – African Childhoods: Peace-Building, Education and Development in the Youngest Continent