Lost Boys: Child Soldier Memoirs and the Ethics of Reading

  • Kate Douglas
  • Anna Poletti
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


In this chapter, we map the reception contexts for two published memoirs of African child soldiers: Ishmael Beah and Emmanuel Jal. We explore what an ethical reading and ethical scholarship of these youth-authored trauma testimonies might require. This case study reveals the need for deep, complex questioning and reflection when it comes to the study of youth-authored life narrative and the deployment of trauma narratives within scholarship. For instance, again, these texts must be considered in light of rights of the child discussions, and considerations of the ways in which these texts might address international social justice issues, and also address generational power imbalances, for instance, in the reception of these childhood stories by adult readers.


Child Soldier Young Reader Ethical Scholarship Life Narrative Trauma Narrative 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Douglas
    • 1
  • Anna Poletti
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtNetherlands

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