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Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 947–979 | Cite as

Narratives of Agency and Capability from Two Adolescent Girls in Post-conflict Liberia

  • Elizabeth J. LeveyEmail author
  • Lance D. Laird
  • Anne E. Becker
  • Benjamin L. Harris
  • G. Gondah Lekpeh
  • Claire E. Oppenheim
  • David C. Henderson
  • Christina P. C. Borba
Original Paper
  • 56 Downloads

Abstract

Between 1989 and 2003, Liberia experienced a brutal civil war characterized by ethnic killings, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers. Five years after the war ended, half the population of Liberia was under 18 years old. Understanding the needs of these youth is thus essential to the recovery of the nation. This study focuses on the narratives of two female adolescents, selected from 75 in-depth individual interviews with post-conflict Liberian youth conducted in 2012. A narrative analysis approach was employed to examine each interview for multiple layers of meaning. The aim of the study was to elucidate factors that may enable post-conflict youth to reclaim a sense of agency and return to normal developmental tasks. The study explores the ways in which these youth navigate complicated power dynamics in the post-conflict setting and how gender impacts their experiences of their own agency and capability. The dynamics between the participants and the interviewer are explored to further illustrate how power dynamics manifest. These narratives support the involvement of youth in projects that help others as an avenue for promoting agency and resilience for themselves.

Keywords

Agency Capability Liberia Post-conflict Youth 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Funding was provided by National Institutes of Health (Grant No. T32MH093310).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Levey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
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  • Lance D. Laird
    • 4
  • Anne E. Becker
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Benjamin L. Harris
    • 6
  • G. Gondah Lekpeh
    • 6
  • Claire E. Oppenheim
    • 7
  • David C. Henderson
    • 4
    • 7
  • Christina P. C. Borba
    • 4
    • 7
  1. 1.The Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Illinois College of MedicineChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  5. 5.Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.A.M. Dogliotti College of MedicineUniversity of LiberiaMonroviaLiberia
  7. 7.Department of PsychiatryBoston Medical CenterBostonUSA

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