Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States
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Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States

Edited by Graham K. Brown and Arnim Langer

The Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States brings together contributions from a multidisciplinary group of internationally renowned scholars on such important issues as the causes of violent conflicts and state fragility, the challenges of conflict resolution and mediation, and the obstacles to post-conflict reconstruction and durable peace-building.
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Chapter 14: Education and violent conflict

Birgitte Refslund Sørensen


Education has assumed an increasingly prominent position in interventions and analyses of violent conflicts and their aftermath over the past 20 years. The empirical connections between education and violent conflicts are many and complex, but I propose that efforts to understand and analyse these can be divided into three separate, but interrelated analytical approaches: the humanitarian perspective, the conflict perspective, and the citizenship perspective, which I outline and discuss in this chapter. Briefly, the humanitarian perspective considers education as a social good that is disrupted and destroyed by violent conflicts, and focuses on how to ensure that children continue to have access to education in times of crises. The conflict perspective instead argues that education may in fact contribute to the eruption of violent conflicts by producing and disseminating opinionated images and attitudes of ‘self’ and ‘other’ and creating structural inequalities, and focuses on how to foster peace and social cohesion through educational reforms. The citizenship perspective shares this view of education as an active force in the formation of subjects and societies, and suggests that attention is paid to the political socialization of children, not only in conflict societies, but everywhere. The citizenship perspective accentuates the strategic importance of education in establishing contemporary citizenship, and sheds light on education as a highly politicized and contested arena that many different actors have an interest in shaping and controlling.

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