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Navigating terrains of war - Henrik Vigh

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Navigating terrains of war - youth and soldiering in Guinea-Bissau
Henrik Vigh
Berghahn Books
UK Publication Date

Through the concept of "social navigation," this book sheds light on the mobilization of urban youth in West Africa. Social navigation offers a perspective on praxis in situations of conflict and turmoil. It provides insights into the interplay between objective structures and subjective agency, thus enabling us to make sense of the opportunistic, sometimes fatalistic and tactical ways in which young people struggle to expand the horizons of possibility in a world of conflict, turmoil and diminishing resources.

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Henrik E. Vigh is a researcher at the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims in Copenhagen. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen and has worked on issues of youth and conflict in both Europe and West Africa. He is currently researching undocumented West African migrants in Europe and the networks that they depend on, develop and are caught up in.

"…represents a vivid effort to understand the complex world of war and poverty. In this masterful work, Vigh combines an innovative methodology in fieldworks with tribalismo theories. Youth, in Guinea-Bissau, is circumscribed to the dilemma of migrating or perish…Vigh provides a serious framework to understand how violence works. This is, undoubtedly, one of the best books I have ever read on this topic. Magisterially explained throughout the ten chapters that form the project, Vigh reveals how poverty is conducive to warfare."
Nmadas: Critical Journal of the Social Sciences

"For the increasingly numerous anthropologists [specializing in Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology] Henrik Vigh's book on young combatants in the war in Guinea-Bissau should be compulsory reading material."JRAI

"The book is remarkably successful in this ambitious endeavour [to address the tensions between structure and agency through the author's concept of social navigation] because it combines solidly researched and eloquently formulated ethnography with engagement of a wide range of theory.... it merits a cover-to-cover read."Journal of Peace Research

"In his excellent [book], Vigh offers a sophisticated and highly insightful analysis of mobilization and soldiering among contemporary urban African youths...This is a very welcome empirically based and theoretically sophisticated contribution to our understanding of one of Africa's recent 'small wars'."Social Anthropology

"Though written accessibly, its principal preoccupations are theoretical. Vigh draws on a range of theorists… [and] social philosophers…Along the way he provides useful excursions through the literature on contemporary violence and African liberation movements…[The book] is among the most exciting and important contributions available today."Ethnos

"Vigh has done a superb job in shedding new light on the civil war in Guinea-Bissau, and especially in showing the close linkages between the history of the Aguentas and that of political turmoil in the West African country…the quality of the research and the book's refreshing approach to the analysis of youth involvement in conflict…should appeal to scholars and practitioners interested in conflict dynamics in Africa." African Affairs

"This is a timely, empirically solid, and theoretically sophisticated contribution to our understanding of one of Africa's recent 'small wars'…[that] throws new light on the 'crisis of youth' in post-colonial Africa, provides a fascinating critique of the notion of 'child' soldiers, explores the ways in which youth internalise the external world in negative self-images, [and] deepens our understanding of 'civil war' in Africa." Michael Jackson, Harvard Divinity School

Keyword Index
Children and war - Guinea-Bissau.|Child soldiers - Guinea-Bissau.|Urban youth - Guinea-Bissau.|Veterans - Social networks - Guinea-Bissau.|War and society - Guinea-Bissau.|Social status - Guinea-Bissau.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages

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