Urban youth in post-conflict northern Uganda: networking livelihood resources
(University Of Copenhagen (Fellow))
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores Northern Ugandan urban youth as actors in an uncertain social and economic world in a post-conflict situation. Through case studies of ten youth, I explore the significance of social networks that involve both lineal and consanguineal kin as well as friends, neighbours and co-workers in navigating this uncertain world.
Paper long abstract:
From the late 1980's, armed conflict became endemic in Northern Uganda and by the late 1990's 90% of the population lived in IDP camps. After 2006 there was a marked increase in security and the camps have now been emptied. However significant numbers of young people, with little or no experience of rural life, have not returned to their villages, preferring to become urban dwellers. There are few qualitative studies of this new generation of urban youth in Northern Uganda. In public discourse they have been seen as a problem, a group or category in need of projects.
In this paper I focus on youth as actors in an uncertain social and economic world. Through case studies of five young men and five young women I explore the significance of social networks that involve both lineal and consanguineal kin as well as friends, neighbours and co-workers. In particular I suggest that close attention to intergenerational relations and entitlements - and the different significance of children for male and female youth - are keys to understanding urban youth in Gulu.
Fieldwork draws on life stories, key informant interviews, observation and focus group discussions. In addition video filming has been extensively used, and footage has been shared with those involved to generate discussions. Drawing on this material allows me to supplement interviews and observation and to begin to capture an ethnography by youth where young people reflects on their actions, goals and strategies and tell their own stories.
Children and youth exploring uncertain realities