» Archive for category: ‘violence/war


Research about children and youth in the context of the Second World War and its aftermath remains limited. This is especially true for children and young people whose parents collaborated with the occupation.

An important exception includes the work by Dr Tames at the (Dutch) Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). Amongst other things, she conducted research about the children of Dutch Nazi-collaborators in the post war years – a particularly silenced piece of Dutch history.

The research was published in Dutch under the title ‘Besmette Jeugd‘ (‘Contaminated Youth’). I have written an English language review of the title, which is available HERE and HERE.

The book is important for a number of reasons. First, it draws attention to the war-time childhoods that typically receive least attention during the annual wave of attention for the Second World War as part of the comemorations of the Netherlands’ liberation (4-5 May in the Netherlands) – yet, these childhoods were often deeply tainted by the (post)war experience. Second, the book sheds important light on the working of the post-war child protection and social work system in the Netherlands. This sector was hardly developed then, yet had to respond to the acute problem of what to do with children of Dutch parents who had collaborated with the German occupation. Many of these parents were imprisoned as part of the liberation creating an immediate demand for an alternative care solution. In addition, there was a strong concern that these children might have been contaminated by the ideas of their parents. The interplay between such ‘care’ concerns and ‘control’ issues constitute the third reason why this book matters, particularly since this is still characteristic of many child protection and social work initiatives today (and social policy at large). Yet, the advantage of the historical analysis presented in ‘Contaminated youth’ is that it illustrates child protection as a highly normative field and shows has this normativity evolves in relation to shifting ideas about ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’, changing ideas about the role of institutions such as the family, youth organisations, social work, and in relation to transforming geo-politics.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

thai 1

Tanks are rolling into Bangkok, a military coup in the making or the usual ‘innocent fun’ for Thailand’s children’s day?

Max Fisher claims in the Washington Post that ‘Thailand has had more coups than any other country’. In this historical light, seeing heavy military equipment rolling into Bangkok, quite understandably, has fuelled rumours about yet another military coup in the making even more so because the city for the past few weeks has been the stage of large scale street protests seeking to oust PM Yingluck and calling for a boycot of the upcoming elections (see HERE and HERE).

Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Army has ‘instructed the public not to panic‘ about the movement of military equipment, even though General Prayuth Chan-ocha has failed to rule out a military coup. It is not any coup plan, the Royal Thai Army claims, that causes this military activity, but the upcoming Thai children’s day which is celebrated annually on the second Saturday of January. As the picture from the Nation above illustrates and is explained in Khaosod: one of the highlights of children’s day in Thailand is ”the display of military hardware, in which children are invited to ride on tanks or jet fighters’.

Perhaps more so than any other profession, armies the world over have always keenly promoted their trade among the young especially. Often through the showcasing, virtually and actually, of heavy military equipment (see for example the Dutch Defence forces). The constant effort of securing the generational renewal of armed forces also underpins ongoing debates about, and creative interpretation of (see the UK case), the issue of minimum age of recruitment in armed forces (put at 15  years in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article 38.3).

It is interesting to see how in the denial of any coup connections with the increased presence of military equipment in Bangkok, by referring to children’s day, the Royal Thai Army effectively constructs its participation in Thailand’s children’s day as innocent and unpolitical – something appears unchallenged by the main media reporting on it.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


Why is it that American youth increasingly think that the sending of US troops to Vietnam was ok?

Gallup has run regular polls among US residents about the sending of US troops to Iraq. The figure indicates that, indeed, most respondents view it as a ‘mistake’, but that this a drop from 2008-09 when far more respondents viewed it as a mistake.

Interestingly, Gallup presents its data also in age-disaggregated and comparative form (comparing three American wars):

The data show significant variation by generation for the (lack of) support for American military action in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam. With the exception of the case of Afghanistan it is among the youngest cohort (18-29 years) that support for the sending of US troops is highest. Moreover, it is only among this age group that the sending of troops to Vietnam in the 1960s is seen as a ‘good’ thing. The Gallup report evokes a Mannheimian explanation in making sense of this observation by stating that ‘perhaps that is because they have no personal memory of the conflict’.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

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.