“With Pillars of the Nation, Kristen Cheney has admirably succeeded in providing a culturally informed ethnographic study of the predicament of children in contemporary Uganda. Here, she shows how Ugandan children in diverse and often problematic situations seek to establish through their own agency a meaningful life not always in agreement with cultural codes, national social agendas, and ideologies enforced by international agencies and programs to assist them. This is an impressive and original work.”
(Philip Kilbride, Bryn Mawr College 2006-09-27)
“In this lively and powerful ethnography, Kristen Cheney highlights the incongruities and contradictions between the globalized norms of childhood embodied in the children’s rights discourse, the progressive ideals of nationalist doctrine, and children’s lived experiences of growing up in a diversity of circumstances in Uganda. Taking issue with the view of children as passive recipients of adult socialization, Cheney builds a forceful case for viewing young people as highly competent social agents who actively negotiate their own political identities. Conceptualizing children and childhood from a political economy perspective, this volume makes a significant contribution to the field of childhood studies.”
(Jo Boyden, Director of the Young Lives Project, Department of International Development, University of Oxford 2007-05-21)
"A valuable addition to a scant literature."
"An important book that deserves wide readership. It is particularly appropriate for an undergraduate course on ethnography as well as a graduiate course specifically focusing on childhood and citizenship. It was an enjoyable and engaging book to read."
(Mwenda Ntaranqwi American Ethnologist
"A riveting and nuanced ethnography of Ugandan schoolchildren's understanding of childhood, nationhood and children's place within the nation. . . . Cheney illustrates eloquently the rift between international and Ugandan discourses on children's rights and children's actual sense of powerlessness shaped by adult notions of childhood."
(Dorte Thorsen Social Anthropology
"Pillars of the Nation provides a valuable description of childhood in a contemporary African context while also challenging readers to recognize that the success of broad prescriptions for the well-being of children . . . ultimately depend heavily upon local realities. . . . Pillars of the Nation will be of interest to anyone concerned with a sophisticated and contextualized analysis of childhood in contemporary Africa, and to anyone interested in children's rights anywhere in the world."
(Andrew M. Guest Childhood
"Pillars of the Nation is much more than a case study of childhood in an African setting. The book engages key sociological themes of nationalism, social change, and generational conflict--all through the lens of childhood. Cheney makes a strong case that children play an active role in constructing their social worlds and that their actions have important repercussions for adults as well."
(Robert Wyrod American Journal of Sociology