Children, Youth, and Media in Middle Eastern, North African, and Gulf Conflict Zones

By Yael Warshel
Submitted to Session P4892 (Children, Youth, and Media in Middle Eastern Conflict Zones, 2017 Annual Meeting
Comtns
All Middle East;
Peace Studies;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Responding to children and media literature that emphasizes an analysis of the effects on or reception by children living in non-Middle Eastern peace zones of fictive violence, children, media and conflict literature emphasizes an analysis of the effects on or reception by children living in non-Middle Eastern peace zones of non-fiction violence, or news. Both sets of literature focus on how to help non-Middle Eastern children cope with violence (whether imagined or real). Neither body of literature addresses children whom live in the Middle East, or more specifically, in Middle Eastern conflict zones. In this paper I discuss alternative approaches that emphasize Middle Eastern, North African, and Persian/Arabian Gulf conflict zones. I critically examine and merge the children and media; and children, media and conflict bodies of literatures with three others, including youth and social movements literature focusing on how young people protest unequal material structures; children and conflict literature positing children as passive victims and/or active perpetrators of conflict; and conflict zones literature emphasizing adults’ efforts to “normalize” their mundane practices amid physical and structural violence. By critically merging these varied scholarly approaches with comparative and global studies to engage Middle Eastern children specifically, I introduce a new transdisciplinary approach, one I refer to as, “Children, Youth and Media in Middle Eastern, North African, and Gulf Conflict Zones”. Such a merger enables for the scholarly examination of how Middle Eastern, North African, and Gulf children and youth living amid armed conflict, including (forcibly-) migrated, and borderlands populations, and those born due to uses of rape as a weapon of war, (might) respond to, interpret, use, and produce media to participate in building and making of positive peace across their regions. When critically placed in dialogue with one another, these bodies of literature allow for understanding of how both children and youth, whether passive victims and/or active perpetrators of conflict, are influenced by, interpret, use, and articulate their intergroup attitudes, political opinions, and peace and conflict related practices and behaviors in relation to and through media. By achieving such a synthesis, this approach illuminates more than just “children” and “youth”. It describes the attitudes, opinions, and peace and conflict practices of those whom otherwise are not typically counted by so-called “public” (read: adult) opinion polls but whom in fact represent a combined demographic and conceptual majority. They embody the very meaning of daily life across Middle Eastern conflict zones.