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Research in Progress Seminar (RIPS)

Dr. Helen Berents, Senior Lecturer, School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, March 18 - Small Deaths, Global Mourning: The Politics of Images of Children’s Suffering in Conflict and Crisis

Mar 15, 2019

A Research in Progress Seminar Talk 2019

Who: Dr. Helen Berents
Where: Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH) 712
When: Monday, March 18, 2:30pm - 4:00pm

Small Deaths, Global Mourning:The Politics of Images of Children’s Suffering in Conflict and Crisis

Visual representations of children are ubiquitous in global politics, 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 risky, and dead children as the ultimate condemnation of circumstance. Such images present children as iconic or symbolic, a synecdoche for understanding a broader political event. These images illustrate often without reflection. 

In this talk Berents will argue that we need to better account for the ways in which children are represented in international relations, to more fully understand the events we explore as scholars of global political events. What are the political and affective dimensions of using images of children to illustrate, and under what circumstances is the active presence of young people made notable? What are the gendered, racialized, and ageist logics that operate when such images are shared? How do they come to illustrate global political events but not be seen as part of the event themselves?

Dr Helen Berents received her PhD (International Relations) from the University of Queensland, Australia in 2013. She is presently a senior lecturer at the School of Justice, Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology. Her research draws on peace studies, feminist international relations, and critical security studies to consider representations of youth in crises and conflicts, and engagements with lived experiences of violence-affected young people. Her work has been published in journals including International Political Sociology, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Critical Studies on Security, and Signs; her first book Young People and Everyday Peace: Exclusion, Insecurity and Peacebuilding in Colombia was published by Routledge in 2018.