Being young in times of duress in the Central African Republic

In this project we undertake research on the relationship between youth and the experience of violence in the Central African Republic, both from a historical and ethnographic perspective.

The African Studies Centre Leiden was asked by UNICEF Netherlands to develop a research programme in tandem with their reintegration programme for liberated children associated with armed forces or armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR). This UNICEF programme started in 2014 after one of the latest episodes of armed conflict and disorder hit the country. But it was not the first time in the CAR’s history that children and youth have been mobilized by armed forces or armed groups, nor is it the first time that reintegration programmes are rolled out in the country to reach affected children. In fact it has been suggested that the CAR can be best described as experiencing a quasi-permanent state of crisis (Carayannis & Lombard 2015:325). In order to contribute to a more thorough understanding of the experience of young people in such a context and to establish what ‘reintegration after conflict’ can look like, this research project has been developed. We will study various generations’ experiences with violence during their childhood and youth and their experiences with reintegration programmes. This will allow for a more historical and contextualized perspective on for example the phenomenon of children and youth associated with armed forces or armed groups, a phenomenon often approached as a contemporary anomaly that needs quick redress. Biographic narratives will be the main research methods used in this study that is carried out in close collaboration with the department of Anthropology of the University of Bangui. The aim is to strengthen each other’s capacity by this collaboration and to disseminate findings amongst a large variety of stakeholders in CAR and abroad. UNICEF Netherlands received funding for this collaboration from the Nederlandse Postcode Loterij (NPL) in 2016. (Photo credit: UNICEF Netherlands).

Other researchers

Jonna Both
Catherina Wilson

Research project
2016 to 2018

Senior researchers

External affiliates

Dr Jean Bruno Ngouflo, Département d’anthropologie de l’Université de Bangui
Crépin Marius Mouguia


childhood, youth, chronic insecurity, violence, reintegration, biographic narratives

Funding and cooperation


Département d’Anthropologie, Université de Bangui