This panel explores how youth creativity and mobilization outside the formal sector contribute to developing alternative political strategies, social mobility, and new economic niches. Case studies focus on community policing, economic entrepreneurial activities, student movements, and music.
Rising unemployment and inequality in African societies present challenges to development and security. Neoliberal deregulation have contributed to a declining formal sector and a crisis of public authority. This affects not least young men and women, who today represent the largest part of the African population. The creative survival strategies of the youth often remain vulnerable and ephemeral, but may also open opportunities for new forms of empowerment and social mobility. The panel focuses on how different forms of youth creativity and mobilization affect the creation of new political spaces and economic opportunities. Diverse engagements of youth outside of the formal sector include community policing or vigilantism, economic entrepreneurial activities, student organizations, arts, and music. Social movements of youth are contesting state policies and traditional institutions of power, bringing forth alternative discourses, modes of collective action, and structures of social activism. Along with socio-political movements, popular culture has emerged as a relevant sphere of youth empowerment. Musical production and performance have given rise to various novel entrepreneurial initiatives and critique with socio-political repercussions. The panel welcomes papers on the creative responses of contemporary African youth to current political and economic challenges, focusing in particularly on how their activities contribute to developing alternative political strategies, social mobility, and new economic niches. Please fit your paper into any of the following sub-themes of the panel: social movements and alternative political forms and ideologies of youth and students; socio-economic and security-related activities of youth; popular culture as a form of youth empowerment.