Beth Stewart is a PhD candidate and Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. In collaboration with The Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) in Gulu town, Northern Uganda, her PhD research examines the everyday lives of children who were born into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). These are children whose mothers (and often fathers) were abducted as children and forced to ‘marry’ into the ranks of the LRA, and subsequently forced to bear children.
The intimate and prolonged nature of the war in Northern Uganda has made life challenging for everyone. Children who were born into LRA captivity constitute a unique marginalized child survivor population whose perspectives and experiences have significant value in the context of social reconstruction.
A core group of 14 boys and a core group of 15 girls who were “born in the bush” participate in this project. They share their knowledge through participatory research activities including play, drawing, drama, music, semi-structured interviews, group discussions, and personal journals. Careful and creative listening of their ‘voices’ reveals much about identities, stigma, child agency, and justice.
As an artist, Beth also collaborated with these children to visually express the nuances of their perspectives. The children’s poetry, stories, and drawings presented in visually rich mixed media pieces engage audiences to question their assumptions and beliefs about notions of children, war, peace, and justice. Please visit www.artbybws.com to view the series. (http://www.artbybws.com/?page_id=16)
This research speaks to broader themes, including micro-level transitional justice, mainstreaming the voices of marginalized child survivor populations, child agency, and narratives of childhood. Beth holds an MA in History from the University of British Columbia in which she examined early feminist efforts to decolonize development in Africa in the 1960s.
Stewart, B. (2015). 'We are all the same': Experiences of children born into LRA captivity' Justice and Reconciliation Project, Field Note 23.
Baines, E., & Stewart, B. (2011). ‘I cannot accept what I have not done’: Storytelling, Gender and Transitional Justice. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 3(3), 245-263.
Stewart, B. (2008). The Trouble with reaching out: The relationship of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada and rural women in ‘Developing Countries’ in the late 1960s. Views from the Edge 16.
2015 May 9. Solo exhibition. We are all the Same’: Children, War, and Humanity in Northern Uganda. On Being. The Art Way Studio, Vancouver BC.
2015 Jan-Mar. Solo exhibition. ‘We are all the Same’: Children, War, and Humanity in Northern Uganda. Liu Institute Lobby Gallery, Liu Institute for Global Issues, Vancouver BC.