Western development organizations frequently target youth in conflict settings to participate in peaceful, cooperative activities to promote nation-building and deter violence. In this article, Heddy Lahmann examines the narratives of fifteen youth who participated in a US-funded nonformal arts education program in Afghanistan, which operated with the key objective of promoting national identity in its participants. Using open-ended interviews coupled with an arts-based research technique, Lahmann investigates how Afghan youth perceive their identity in relation to the nation. Her research indicates that national identity arguments do not adequately address other salient intersections of identity, such as an individual's developmental stage in life and the significance of gender, and largely leave out the influence of colonialism on the way national identity is conceptualized in non-Western contexts. Lahmann argues that program designers and policy makers must incorporate the local knowledge and experiences of youth and address the unique needs of various groups, including marginalized populations and young women versus young men, to effectively engage them in education efforts.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.