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Depicting Childhood: A Critical Framework for Engaging Images of Children in IR

Abstract

Visual representations of children are ubiquitous in international relations, they illustrate, indicate, and indict, but we rarely stop to consider the implications of their presence. Such images reproduce stereotypical conceptions of childhood: starving children as paragons of innocence, teens clutching AK-47s as delinquent or posing a risk, and dead children as the ultimate condemnation of circumstance. Such images present children as iconic, a synecdoche for understanding a political event; they illustrate without reflection. This chapter asks what a more critical engagement with images of children and childhood might offer IR. It outlines a critical framework for considering such images to draw out the possibilities and tensions inherent in the circulation of evocative images of children in international relations. It outlines a way for those interested in engaging with the visual politics of childhood to consider the complex ways frames and discourses reproduce global inequalities, stereotypes about conflict and disaster, and allow a more meaningful engagement with representations of childhood in international relations.

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Berents, H. (2020). Depicting Childhood: A Critical Framework for Engaging Images of Children in IR. In: Beier, J. (eds) Discovering Childhood in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46063-1_3

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