Bush Wives and Girl Soldiers: Women's Lives through War and Peace in Sierra Leone (Paperback)Chris Coulter (author)
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During the war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), members of various rebel movements kidnapped thousands of girls and women, some of whom came to take an active part in the armed conflict alongside the rebels. In a stunning look at the life of women in wartime, Chris Coulter draws on interviews with more than a hundred women to bring us inside the rebel camps in Sierra Leone.
When these girls and women returned to their home villages after the cessation of hostilities, their families and peers viewed them with skepticism and fear, while humanitarian organizations saw them primarily as victims. Neither view was particularly helpful in helping them resume normal lives after the war. Offering lessons for policymakers, practitioners, and activists, Coulter shows how prevailing notions of gender, both in home communities and among NGO workers, led, for instance, to women who had taken part in armed conflict being bypassed in the demilitarization and demobilization processes carried out by the international community in the wake of the war. Many of these women found it extremely difficult to return to their families, and, without institutional support, some were forced to turn to prostitution to eke out a living.
Coulter weaves several themes through the work, including the nature of gender roles in war, livelihood options in war and peace, and how war and postwar experiences affect social and kinship relations.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 5 mm
"The book is an unsettling close-up of girls' and young women's everyday lives during and after the war. Coulter describes abduction, rape and all-pervasive violence in much greater detail than most anthropologists have dared to. She also scrutinizes the challenges that women face during demobilization, and the difficulties of reintegration and reconciliation. . . . Its disturbingly detailed ethnographic gaze on violence, its focus on the choiceless decisions that women (and many men) faced during the war, and on the ills of post-war reconciliation and reintegration, make it a highly recommendable book for any anthropologist who wants to learn about everyday reality in a war-torn society."-Toomas Gross, Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society (January 2011)
"Chris Coulter's painstaking and compassionate ethnography focuses on the diverse experiences of Sierra Leone women during a decade-long civil war. But by broadening her horizons to include prewar and postwar perspectives, Coulter provides a compelling account of the family tensions, moral quandaries, gender conflicts, economic hardships, and structural violence with which many African women have always had to contend, often with remarkable resilience and resourcefulness."-Michael D. Jackson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of World Religions, Harvard University
"Chris Coulter's Bush Wives and Girl Soldiers is a groundbreaking study of female ex-combatants in Sierra Leone. Through one of the most sensitive ethnographies of conflict available, she explores young women's predicaments and strategies for living in a violent conflict, their renegotiation of gendered lives in postwar families and communities, and their responses to contradictions generated by international processes of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. Her nuanced, gendered analysis provides a strongly compelling study of postwar intervention that forces us to rethink ideas about child and youth combatants."-Rosalind Shaw, Tufts University