Rethinking Approaches to the Study of Childhoods in Sub Saharan Africa

Rethinking Approaches to the Study of Childhoods in Sub Saharan Africa

In trying to understand societies in sub Saharan Africa, scholars from different disciplines have long centred their research and scholarship on childhoods and children’s lived experiences in the diverse countries and communities that exist on the continent. In recent decades much of this scholarship on childhoods in sub Saharan Africa has become focused on marginalised childhoods or children living in difficult circumstances. Such an overwhelming focus on the challenges that much of the continent and its peoples face is problematic, not least because it becomes the focus of many of the publications that are produced about the continent. These, in turn, become the outputs that are largely consumed not only by academic colleagues, but also by students and members of the public more generally, especially in countries outside the region. Thus, the knowledge that is produced and then consumed about childhoods in sub Saharan Africa is one which is characterised by ‘lacks’. This one-dimensional narrative that is produced feeds into reinforcing stereotypes about the continent and further leads to the persistence of colonial narratives in the present-day, which infantilise the continent and its peoples and foreground discourses in which the children on the continent, in particular, are presented as in need of saving, preferably by foreign actors.

This stream seeks to explore alternatives approaches to the study of childhoods in sub Saharan Africa which move beyond one-dimensional narratives and foreground more holistic approaches to understanding childhoods and children’s lives in the region.

Organiser: Afua Twum-Danso Imoh (afua.twum-danso@bristol.ac.uk)