Prewar, Wartime, and Postwar Identity of Former Child Soldiers in Colombia and Syria


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships


Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education


With roughly 200,000 child soldiers at any one time—and that number turning over every few years—child soldiers are a significant social problem. One aspect is the development of, and changes to, a sense of identity and self for the child soldier over time. This study examines child soldier identity from a life course perspective, considering the effects of prewar, wartime, and postwar experiences on personal and social identity. It explores how prewar family and community experiences; wartime combatant roles and group attachments; and postwar family, community, occupational roles, occupational statuses, group identifications, and social stigma interact to form the postwar child soldier identity. It uses grounded theory and narrative analysis to conduct a comparative study of 40 former child soldiers in Colombia and Syria.