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Becoming Fathers

Category: sexuality

29 Sep 2015

becoming a father

The website ‘reproductive journeys in Malawi‘ presents the main findings of a 4 year research project on ‘Becoming a father’ in an online exhibition format.

Whereas the bulk of research in the field of reproductive health and rights focuses on women, ‘Becoming fathers’ shifts the analytical spotlight to men. Its main objective was ‘to explore Malawian men’s aspirations and experiences of having children, particularly from the vantage point of men’s involvement in their own and their partner’s reproductive health’, with the aim of helping to ‘contextualise the reproductive health issues that people experience in Karonga District, a rural area in the north of Malawi, and facilitate sharing and learning from that information.’

To this end, a methodology centred around ‘reproductive life stories’ was employed involving 55 men and their female partners. The material this generated (both visual and interview material) is presented bilingually (Chitumbuka and English) in a very engaging online exhibition and structured around ten themes. It starts with the theme of ‘boyhood aspirations‘ and closes with ‘finishing “the programme”‘, which refers to sterilisation. Other interesting themes include ‘childlessness‘, ‘outside pregnancies‘, ‘becoming a father’, and many more. The combination of beautiful photographs, short quotes and expanded quotes works particularly well. It gives a good overview of the main findings whilst it also gives a sense of the qualitative richness of the material. For example, the quote introducing the ‘becoming a father’ theme reads: ‘even before the arrival of his first born, a man may become a father to younger siblings or cousins’.

Another interesting feature of the project’s website is the inclusion of some fieldnotes in the ‘About‘ section and a useful commentary on language and translation. The fieldnotes illustrate very powerfully the context in which the research must be understood. The research was conducted in Chitumbuka (the main language of northern Malawi), whilst in transcribing the data influences of the English (‘jenda’ for gender) and Chichewa (the national language) were noted. In addition, another interesting point is made on how in everyday speech the research participants have appropriated development and committee speak. The case in point is the phrase ‘the programme’, used to refer to sterilisation (mostly of women).

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Thesis drafts presented in the current Research Paper Drafts seminars suggest we may expect some very strong theses in the field of Children, Youth and Development at the ISS.

The research draft paper seminar week is an important step in the MA in development studies programme at the ISS. Following course work, students work full-time on their research projects in July and August and present the first drafts of their thesis during seminars scheduled late September.

In the seminars, each MA student presents her work for 20 minutes followed by discussion by peers and faculty.

This is some of the interesting work-in-progress that was presented before the weekend:

-Gifty Fosuaa Nuamah Youth: ‘Mobile Phone: A Blessing or a Curse? A case of Kintampo District in Brong Ahafo, Ghana’

-Stephen Ucembe: ‘How do care leavers make meaning of leaving care in relationship to institutional care?’

-Michael Sambo: ‘Youth and social movements: The conflicting relations between youth and the state in Mozambique over the last ten years’

-Mahardhika Sjamsoeoed: ‘Negotiating a Third Space: The construction of young Dutch Muslim’s identities and their daily secular realities’

And this is what’s still in stock:

Kristel Avila: ‘Contesting ‘youth at risk’ discourses through soccer practicing? Explorative research on young male subjectivities of El Agustino, Lima, Peru.’

Sandra Dewi Arifiani: ‘The role of child forum as a space for child participation in Indonesia’

Maria Camila Pachebo Blel: ‘Choosing motherhood? Understanding the factors that influence young motherhood in low socioeconomic contexts in Colombia’

Okoth Maurice: ‘Citizenship and sense of belonging: The experiences of second generation Somali immigrant youths in Eastleigh neighbourhood’

and much more!

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The 8th conference of the European Asociation for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) featured a panel dedicated to the question of what Southeast Asia has to contribute to the field of youth studies.

This ‘youth studies panel‘ was composed of the following six presentations:

  • Life is ART”: New Emerging Youth Networks in Hanoi
    Stephanie Geertman
    (Institut National De La Recherche Scientifique, Canada)
  • Youth, Phones and Companies: Insights from Southeast Asia
    Roy Huijsmans
    (Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands)
  • Parental Expectations and Young People’s Migratory Experiences in Indonesia
    Wenty Marina Minza
    (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia)
  • Making it in the City: Young Adults, Faith and Social Tolerance in a Middle-Class Housing Complex in Jakarta
    Suzanne Naafs
    (University of South Australia, Australia)
  • Saint, Celebrity, and the Self(ie): Body-Politics at Play in Late-Socialist Vietnam
    Tri Phuong (Yale University, USA)
  • Coming of Age in the Transitional Cohorts of Youth in Southeast Asia
    Peter Xenos (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)

A few important points transpired from these presentations, which speak in interesting ways to the panel’s starting question. First, possibly because the relative absence of a strong and coherent body of youth studies based on Southeast Asian research the presentations were remarkably diverse and refreshing. There was very little inward looking talk about youth studies. Instead, all presentations developed their youth studies perspective in relation to key debates in related fields such as media studies, urban studies, demography, planning, anthropology of the state. Second, a relational approach informed many of the presentations; emphasising the importance of understanding youth in relation to other age groupings, events, and wider forces. Third, in contrast to the pessimistic literature on for example youth un(der)employment, many of the presentations in this panel stressed the importance of fun and leisure in young people’s lives, including in relation to matters of (serious) political significance.

In addition, to this ‘youth studies panel’ various other youth related presentations were scattered across other panels (see for example HERE, HERE, and HERE). All this bodes very well for the future of youth studies in the Southeast Asian context.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

UNICEF employment (NETI)

Category: jobs/interns

19 Aug 2015


Please note that UNICEF is recruiting for their NETI programme (New and Emerging Talent Programme).

The advertised positions include things like ‘Social policy officer in Nicaragua’, ‘Monitoring and evaluation officer in Jordan’, ‘Education specialist in Turkey’ and ‘Child protection specialist in Mali’.

UNICEF describes their NETI programme as ‘an entry point for dynamic professionals interested in an international career with UNICEF’. The programme is structured as follows: ‘NETI participants are given an initial one-year work appointment with a three-week Induction at UNICEF’s New York Headquarters (NYHQ). During this three-week period, NETI participants familiarize themselves with UNICEF and meet HQ colleagues from the functional areas in which they will work during their field assignment’

Further details can be found HERE. Please note the 1 September deadline.

Child Saving?

Category: trafficking

14 Jul 2015


The coming weeks, the ‘Beyond Slavery and Trafficking‘ page of the openDemocracy website features a series of posts raising critical questions about contemporary ‘child saving’.

‘Beyond Slavery and Trafficking’ (BST) is an editorial partnership between openDemocracy and researchers from across the globe that has been active since 2014. Its objectives are described as follows:

This site aspires to be an alternative to the many ‘Modern-Day Slavery Hubs’ dotted across conventional media. While these outlets make an important contribution, they often feature stories that are sensationalist, de-politicised, and based on questionable research. We are here to go beyond such simplicity. Our editors will marshal the best of contemporary scholarship to provide informed, nuanced, and focused analysis. They’ll engage practitioners and policy-makers about life inside the policy system, and link failings to wider questions about the nature of the societies in which we live. (see HERE)

Over the next few weeks a virtual special issue on ‘generation’ is launched on the BST pages. As Sam Okyere and Neil Howard (the editors of this special issue) explain in their introduction entitled ‘Are we really saving the children?‘ the contributions show that ‘contemporary child savers often damage the children they seek to save because they operate under severely flawed assumptions’. Contributions are posted on a rolling basis so watch this SPACE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The upcoming 2015 conference of the Development Studies Association (DSA) is announced as ‘a sizzling set of parallel sessions which explore many different aspects of the complexities and contradictions of relationships involved in global development’. Whilst the draft programme indeeds whets the academic appetite the virtual absence of any engagement with children and youth studies is remarkable.

The DSA describes itself as an association that ‘works to connect and promote the development research community in UK and Ireland’. It proudly brands itself as ‘the largest and most coherent national platform for people studying, teaching and researching development issues’. It organises annual conferences, and this year’s conference is themed: ‘Global Development as a Relationship: Dependence, Interdependency or Divide?‘.

One would expect that such a theme would also appeal to researchers working on questions related to children and youth in contexts of development. Since children and youth are so often presented as the targets of development interventions (see HERE), the relational question posed by the conference organisers invites deeper conceptual and theoretical engagement with the various generational dimensions of development as relating to children and youth (but also, say, to older people).

A quick word search of the 138 page list of abstracts suggests the opposite however. The term ‘youth’ yields three hits, and none of the concerning abstracts suggest more than passing reference to youth. The term ‘children’ does somewhat better with 43 hits. Yet, some of it refers to the affiliation of the speakers or an acknowledgement of the funder (e.g. Save the Children) whereas in cases the term ‘children’ features in the abstract it is seldom given given any conceptual status. The key focus is on things such as the role of private education, measuring learning outcomes, and trends in child mortality. This lack of conceptual engagement with children as a generational grouping is also evident from the fact that the term ‘childhood’ appears only four times across all abstracts. A positive exception is a paper by Gina Crivello and Nikki van der Gaag on ‘Adolescent boys and social transitions’ which draws on Young Lives data and, indeed, it is here that the term ‘childhood’ is used (three times).

This quick assessment raises an important question. Children and youth studies might still be dominated by research conducted in the Global North, yet this dominance is increasingly challenged by innovative research conducted in the South, oftentimes in explicit relation to development. In addition, generational issues like youth un(der)employment have featured highly on various development agendas over recent years, and the appearance of new journals in the field (like this one) suggests children and youth studies is a thriving field. So why is it that in spite of all this, there is still so little intellectual engagement between development studies and children and youth studies?

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Category: jobs/interns

26 Jun 2015


Ecpat International is advertising two internship position in the field of child protection and children’s rights.

Ecpat International describes itself as ‘a global network of organisations working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.’

The two internships are both based in Bangkok. One position is based in the general Ecpat research and policy team (see HERE), and the other one is a legal internship position supporting research and policy work relating to work in Malaysia (see HERE). Both internships come with a small stipend, yet other major costs (like airtickets) come at the expense of the interns.

Kristen_CheneyA new special issue of the journal Global Studies of Childhood on ‘Children and young people in times of conflict and change: Child rights in the Middle East and North Africa’ has just been released. The special issue, which is the culmination of a TEMPUS-funded project in which several European universities with programs in children’s rights – including ISS – collaborated with four universities in Jordan and Egypt to develop a diploma program in Public Policy and Child Rights. ISS faculty member Kristen Cheney was involved in the project, and she also served as co-editor of the special issue with Debbie Watson of Bristol University and Heba Raouf Ezzat of Cairo University.

HindThe special issue includes an article by ISS alum Hind Farahat and Cheney. Entitled “A facade of democracy: Negotiating the rights of orphans in Jordan”, the piece draws on data and findings from Farahat’s MA research to argue that Jordanian orphans’ direct action during the Arab Spring did not yield its expected results due to the persistently patriarchal social and legal constrictions of their citizenship in Jordan.

Farahat graduated from ISS with a degree in Social Policy for Development and a specialization in Children & Youth Studies in 2013. She currently works as a program development officer for TechTribes as well as director of child and youth programs for the Ecumenical Studies Center in Amman.

You can view the full table of contents for the special issue on the Global Studies of Childhood website.

Anthropology of Youth

Category: research| youth

10 Jun 2015


The online journal Open Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association offers a theme-issue on ‘Approaching Youth in Anthropology’.

All articles are entirely open access for a period of 6 months (starting as of June 9), and can be accessed HERE.

The issue features a total of 15 articles previously published in various AAA journals like the American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Ethos, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly, ranging from a book review by Robert H. Lowie of Margareth Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa published in 1929 to more recently published work like Craig Jeffrey’s Timepass (2010).

Altogether it is a great set of articles, and an excellent introduction to anthropological studies of youth.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The University of Dundee is advertising a three year fully funded PhD position as part of a ESRC/DfID funded project on ‘Social cash transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories in rural Lesotho and Malawi.

The research project and the application process is described in more detail HERE. Within the overall project the PhD researcher is expected to work especially on the question of ‘how political and economic power relationships between national and international institutions are implicated in the design and implementation of SCT schemes’.

International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.