Liminal Children, Liminal Rights? Media Representations of Scandinavian Children Born of War after World War II and after the Fall of the Islamic State

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter argues for the importance of developing historical reference frames for Scandinavian children born to foreign fighters in the so-called Islamic State (IS)—that is, seeing them as children born of war (CBOW) rather than as “IS children”—to strengthen the case for their repatriation from Kurdish detention camps. Politicians across the region today stress they want to repatriate the children of IS foreign fighters, but not if that also means helping the mothers. Human rights activists have strongly criticized this position, but most of the family repatriations that have materialized have done so in the name of national security, not children’s rights. A historical perspective that recognizes the children of IS foreign fighters as Scandinavian children born of war can expand the terms of advocacy for the children’s right to return beyond national security and terrorism prevention. To establish this perspective, I compare how politicians and humanitarian organisations framed the controversies around the integration and repatriation of the children in both contexts. The respective examples come from Swedish, Danish and Norwegian news media in the years 1945 to 1950 and from 2019 to the spring of 2022. Despite the significant differences between the children’s situations, the analysis of childhood tropes across these media representations shows that both generations were constructed as CBOW in comparable ways, that is, as “children in danger/dangerous children” in their specific relationships to enemy fathers and distrusted mothers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren and Youth at Risk in Times of Transition
Subtitle of host publicationInternational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)978-311100963-6
ISBN (Print)978-311101064-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
  • Globalization Studies
  • History
  • Media Studies

Cite this