Children and Political Agency: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives from the Middle East
Guest editors Chiara Diana and Nazan Maksudyan with IJMES editor Joel Gordon
Agency is a cornerstone of research in childhood studies, defined in a number of ways with a multidisciplinary approach. Agency is classically an individual capacity to act in an autonomous way. Yet too often children are described collectively, as a subordinate social group. Politics is mostly conceived as an adult sphere, in which children have no place since they are legally excluded from means of political participation and activism. Any potential agency for children is overlooked; their actions are infantilized by an overemphasis on adult/parent manipulations. This holds true for the classic historiography. However, a new historiography seeks to redress this by recognizing the historical identity of children, along with their agency as historical actors and their contribution to the social and political development of modern states. The uprisings of 2010 and onwards have inspired new research on children’s active participation during revolutionary moments. These works shed light on children’s involvement in popular protests, as well as the price that entails in terms of violence, even martyrdom; at the same time they highlight children’s political and civic engagement through initiatives undertaken in the street, at school or in the family, which cultivate their political consciousness as well as a sense of community.
For a special issue of IJMES, we seek the submission of original historical and empirical case studies delineating the political subjectivity and agency of children in the Middle East, North Africa, Muslim South East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our definition of political agency does not only include participation in social, political and revolutionary movements or institutional political processes. We also take into account different individual or collective, rational and affective ways of acting and affecting political and social change. From a methodological point of view, we prioritize children’s perspectives within their socio-political and cultural contexts, and thus doing research with children, not about or on children. By employing an empowering and interdisciplinary approach, this special issue of IJMES invites country-focused as well as comparative contributions, addressing the political subjectivity and agency of children. Potential themes and topics include but are not limited to:
- children's experiences and involvement during changing political contexts and critical historical moments, as partakers, as active agents, and as witnesses
- children’s unconventional forms of political participation and collective activism against political oppression
- children’s everyday means of doing politics and their forms of resistance to political settings constructed by established adultist codes and institutions
- children’s resilience and endurance under circumstances of war, civil strife, and political turmoil
- climate activism and active participation of children in these movements
- young refugees and migrants’ agency in everyday hardships
- forms of negotiation against social and political marginalization
The deadline for paper submissions is August 31, 2020. Authors should follow the regular guidelines for submitting an article manuscript to IJMES, which are detailed at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies/information/submission-guidelines#manuscript-prep
Please indicate in your cover letter that your submission is intended for the special issue. All special issue articles must be accepted individually through the IJMES peer review process.