To what extent can female and male youth engaged in armed conflict be reintegrated into their communities? My project REACT (Reintegration from Armed Conflict) seeks to answer this question through a cross-regional analysis of two contexts: Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Having almost completed my research in the Gaza Strip, REACT will concentrate almost exclusively on Iraq to understand similarities and differences in how youth perceive the possibility of reintegration; and how this interacts with the expectations of their communities, the national government, and the humanitarian and development sector. REACT seeks to contribute to studies on youth in armed conflict, using approaches drawn from social anthropology, critical security studies and social network theory, and based on field research in Gaza and Iraq. REACT departs from the idea that criminalization or (conversely) the treatment of youth as passive victims of adult coercion are effective ways of responding to young people who have been affiliated with armed groups. Instead, this project invites a more complex understanding of the meaning and feasibility of reintegration by directly engaging with youth and their communities, arguing that approaches to engaging with youth formerly affiliated to armed groups should be grounded in their perspectives, as well as those of local ethnic networks and economies. By expanding current knowledge around reintegration and its related policies, the project also aims to provide an empirical platform for policy engagement. Based at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) within IHEID, I will train in critical security studies and social network analysis under the supervision of Prof. Riccardo Bocco. Located in the global hub of the humanitarian and development sector in Geneva, CCDP will be an ideal place to further improve my skills in evidence based policy and research dissemination.
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