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Subjects in Peril: Childhoods Between Security and Resilience


Among the conceptual challenges that new thinking about children and childhood raises for International Relations is how to reconcile subjecthood and (in)security. While the rise of resilience as a paradigmatic alternative to security holds promise for the recovery and foregrounding of subject positions too easily occluded by simplistic renderings of victimhood, it has drawn criticism for downloading the responsibility to abide onto those affected by adverse circumstances. Worse, it risks erasure of trauma in its tendency toward valorization of individualized triumph over adversity, one implication of which is that bona fide subjecthood is somehow earned through indomitability to overcome hardship, deprivation, and even violence. Though problematic in all cases, this may appear especially so when it comes to children, whose disempowerment makes them uniquely vulnerable. Exploring the challenge this poses for International Relations, the central argument of this chapter is that there is a need to hold security and resilience mutually in tension whilst keeping children’s subjecthood and vulnerability both conspicuously foregrounded.

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Research for this chapter was supported by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant number 435-2019-0009).

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Beier, J.M. (2020). Subjects in Peril: Childhoods Between Security and Resilience. In: Beier, J. (eds) Discovering Childhood in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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