Accepted Paper:

Winning at a losing game: love, friendship and the everyday in Freetown, Sierra Leone  

Author:

Luisa Schneider (ISCA Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Through accompanying members of the ‘Eat as You Can’ social club in Freetown in their day-to-day lives, this paper focuses on love relationships and explores the interconnection between material, cultural and social conditions and daily romantic struggles which often erupt in violence.

Paper long abstract:

For the 'EAT as You Can' (EAUC) social club and their (changing) partners sex, love and friendship take centre stage in their daily routines. They look sometimes with joking, sometimes with sarcastic clarity at the economic and social boundaries of their lives which they feel are not flexible, but rigid and, if not for a miracle, permanent. My interlocutors are not focused on hope, on longing for a different future, but on present reality. As self-ascribed idlers but well-off enough to cover their basic needs, relationships are the focus of their daily routines. I am interested in the ways in which relationships are lived among young people in Freetown in the everyday and explore the interconnection between material, cultural and social conditions and daily romantic struggles which often erupt in violence. EAUC members organize their days around being with their friends, chasing sexual partners, finding love and avoiding being trapped by it. They spend hours daily strategizing how to how to find the balance between the right portion of emotions to enjoy oneself and gain something without rendering oneself vulnerable. Friends are the centre of these negotiations. Underneath and above all these movements are ideals of woman- and manhood. Broken down into different life stages, local conceptions of masculinity and femininity have a huge influence on people's everyday lives. In this paper, I therefore examine what gendered expectations and ideals are 'doing' in young people's daily lives and in their (romantic) relationships and what happens when they are 'undone'?

Panel P094
Unspectacular Youth - Practicing the everyday in urban/rural Africa