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Toying with Militarization: Children and War on the Homefront

Abstract

This chapter reflects upon some of the broad themes from our Ludic Geopolitics research project, a project that seeks to explore and understand the politics around childhood and play, specifically in relation to so-called ‘war toys’. Critical approaches to such war play and war toys have tended to stress their militarizing effects—our main argument is that too often these fail to adequately recognize the political lives of children, and render them instead as passive subjects. As a response, we argue that in order to develop more nuanced accounts of the entanglements of childhood and IR, child-centred methodological approaches are necessary. We illustrate this argument through reference to the embodied and ethnographic approach that characterizes our Ludic Geopolitics research project. The chapter also reflects more generally on the promises, problems, and prospects for taking children seriously within IR. In this we argue for a multi-sited research perspective that places children and their agency at the centre. However, the chapter also recognizes that there are challenges in doing so—for example, multi-sited approaches present both methodological and analytical challenges; and emphasizing childhood agency and political subjectivity potentially risks downplaying issues of power, vulnerability, and often well-founded concerns around militarization.

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Fig. 8.1

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Woodyer, T., Carter, S. (2020). Toying with Militarization: Children and War on the Homefront. In: Beier, J. (eds) Discovering Childhood in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46063-1_8

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