Unspectacular Youth - Practicing the everyday in urban/rural Africa 
Maike Birzle (University of Basel)
Susann Ludwig (University of Leipzig)
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Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
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Short Abstract:

The panel highlights everyday practices of youth in Africa. Rather than focusing on exceptional phenomena, which commonly leads to a depiction of youth as heroes or victims, we promote the value of research on routines. This might enable a better understanding of youths' everyday experiences.

Long Abstract

The field of youth studies seeks to conceptualize "youth" and describe its practices. To do so, researchers have looked to experiences such as war, revolution, poverty, etc., and the discourse that emerges captures a tension in these spectacular circumstances to cast youth as danger or potential, victims or heroes, stuck or dynamic, excluded or included. The delineation of a distinct agency appropriated by young Africans is an important step towards a comprehensive understanding of the implications of youth. But what if researchers also inquired youths' everyday practices and experiences of the world? By looking at the unspectacular - that is routines and (possibly) ruptures of the everyday, we hope to get a different and deeper understanding of the experiences. We are interested in motives and ambitions of youth whose life-worlds are not structured by the spectacular phenomena that suspend the predictability of their environment. Therefore, we are further interested in the mutual influence of youths and their social environment, and in the way urban or rural contexts impact their repertoires and ambitions.

Instead of asking what youth is, this panel intends to discuss questions like:

What do young people do?

What constitutes their everyday and how do they experience it?

What motivates their actions?

What are the dynamics of the "unspectacular"?

We welcome papers based on ethnographic research.

Accepted papers: