Accepted Paper:

Generations of hope: life (dis)courses of (and about) youth in Cape Verde in generational perspective  


Filipe Martins (CRIA/UMinho; CEDH - Catholic University of Portugal)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research in urban Cape, young people's uncertainty towards the future is analysed in generational perspective, both in its historical, social and interpersonal dimensions. Hope is argued as central category in the generational arena that produces local subjectivities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on ethnographic research in urban Cape Verde, focused on social trajectories of poor young people in a rapidly changing context. Since the independence in 1975 Cape Verde was under a single party socialist regime until 1991, then followed by a neoliberal multipartidary system. These economical, political and social changes led contemporary youth to a paradoxical place between broadening and globalized social aspirations and a reduced field of possibilities locally available (work, housing, education, consumption) stressing youth's social vulnerability and uncertainty towards the future.

I suggest that this paradoxical place of youth is best understood if framed in generational perspective. Confronting adult's representations (about their own youth as well as about contemporary youth) with youths' own narratives (about their life courses and imagined futures), generations, both as historical landmarks of meaning and morality, as social fields of power and conflict, and as interpersonal networks of reciprocity and mobility, emerge as central locus of meaning and practice in youths' social trajectories. Ethnographic examples of all these aspects will be provided.

Of particular salience in the generational arena is the category o hope, often used by adults to symbolize their past youth and to describe/ascribe present youth social potential (and national expectations) as well as used by youths themselves to capture their uncertain futures, frequently asserting a positive but powerless attitude. These ambiguities of hope conflate local notions of time, morality and power central to the making of subjects and subjectivities in contemporary Cape Verde.


Panel W059
Political ruptures and political subjectivities: how do young generations make sense of their world in a context of uncertainty?