Novel spaces for African youth: creativity, entrepreneurship and political action
This panel explores how youth creativity and mobilization outside of the formal sector
contribute to developing alternative political strategies, social mobility, and new
economic niches. Case studies focus on community policing, economic entrepreneurial
activities, social clubs, student movements, and music and arts.
Rising unemployment and inequality in African societies present challenges to
development and security on the continent. Neoliberal deregulation reforms have
contributed to the decline of the 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, lending groups, student organizations, arts, music and
social clubs. Social movements of youth in Africa are contesting state policies and
traditional institutions of power, bringing forth novel or 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 in rural and urban settings. 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.
Discussants: David Pratten, Mats Utas
Tuulikki Pietilš (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)
Daivi Rodima-Taylor (Boston University)
Helene Maria Kyed (Danish Institute for International Studies)
Tatiana Smirnova (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS)
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