Accepted Paper:

"She's trans-generational": Digital boundary work and the figure of the 'analphabet'  


clovis bergere (University of Pennsylvania)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, as terrains to explore youth as a contested cultural and symbolic category in Guinea.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on ethnographic research to explore changing constructions of youth as mediated by the practice of social networking in Guinea. In recent years, having a page on Facebook or Twitter has emerged as a key 'marker' of youth in Guinea, and the practice is at heart of complex re-articulation of generational authority and what is means to be young today. For the purpose of this paper literacy, broadly conceived, provides a key lens through which to make sense of these changing mediations of youth. I begin with an exploration of the practice of young Guinean Internet-users to expose errors made in French in Guinean official documents. This leads to an interrogation of the figure of the analphabet in discussions and videos shared on Facebook and Twitter. In particular, here I am interested in how new knowledge forms associated with digital literacies are reconfiguring generational relations and authority in Guinea. I then turn to the porous movements between street knowledge that youth need to 'get by' in the Guinea and the technical skills that are necessary to operate on social networking sites. I conclude by reflecting on the role of social media as a key agent in the remaking of generation, youth and distributed agency in urban Guinea today

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