‘White child gone bankrupt’: —the intersection of race and poverty in youth fathered by UN peacekeepers

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Children fathered and abandoned by United Nations peacekeepers are an unintended consequence of peacekeeping operations. Research suggests that the social identity of peacekeeper-fathered children (PKFC) is complex and contradictory. While economically disadvantaged, PKFC’s biracial background confers elements of racial privilege. Using the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case study, the present research evaluates the impact of racial differences on PKFC’s social standing. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a racially heterogeneous sample of 35 PKFC and 60 mothers, we analyse how race and poverty interact and cause PKFC’s conflicting social role. The data demonstrates that being of mixed race leads to the expectation of a higher living standard. Since most PKFC live in extreme economic deprivation, their anticipated privilege contrasts with reality. We found that the stigmatizing effects of poverty were amplified by biracial identification, leading to additional disadvantage, epitomised in the term “Muzungu aliye homba” [white child gone bankrupt]. The findings add to research on ‘children born of war’ and show the role of culture in shaping youth’s social identities. Based on PKFC’s intersecting burdens, we make policy recommendations that address the nexus of race and poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results received funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Grant number 642571) and by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant number AH/P006175/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Social Identity
  • Peacekeeping
  • Children
  • Poverty
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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