International conference on child and youth studies: Youth, Social Movements and Social Networks in Africa
Deadline: March 15, 2014
Date: August 4-5, 2014
Venue: Tunis, Tunisia
Within the framework of its Child and Youth Studies Programme, the Council for the development of social science research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce it’s international conference on Youth, social movements and social networks in Africa to be held in Tunis, Tunisia from August 4-5, 2014. The conference is part of the Council’s effort to provide a platform to African scholars, researchers and intellectuals interested in children and youth studies to create, discuss and disseminate empirically informed and theoretically innovative work on the continent’s children and youth.
In Africa the post-Cold War period has witnessed significant changes within which youth have had to negotiate the process of giving meaning to their lives. Democratization and decentralization, even if imperfect, have opened new spaces for contestation and economic reforms have led to the recoiling of the state in significant areas of society leading to new deprivations as well as opportunities for accumulation. These reforms have coincided with economic growth, rising inequality and high unemployment levels. The ideas behind these reforms are elements of global flows, which also include transnational criminal activities such as drug trafficking, which have blighted countries just as internecine wars and coup d’états have declined in Africa. While embroiled in these dynamics the continent has been blanketed by the global ICT revolution.
Youth, through networks and movements have influenced many of these processes, which have in turn impacted how youth give meaning to their lives, how they understand and represent themselves as well as how society makes sense of and interacts with youth. Youth associational life, activism and modes of self-representation on the continent are said to be particularly influenced by the global ICT revolution, which has augmented the arsenal that African youth deploy to make space for their self-actualization. This process of self-actualization has also included the deployment of ICT in transnational criminal activities including trafficking and cyber criminality. Far from being passive consumers of ICT and social media, African youth are contributing to both the hardware and software innovations that have underpinned these new ways of youth associational life.
Imaginative capacity evidenced partly in these innovations, a knack to exploit the interstices of local, national and global junctures and a spirit of openness have allowed youth to take advantage of elements from multiple temporal and spatial sources to create movements and networks in their effort to influence processes around them. Such networks and movements deserve continued rigorous interrogation on account of a few problematic issues in work and commentary on the subject. First, is the insistence on the apolitical, non-partisan and spontaneous nature of movements and networks as ultimate marks of their authenticity and legitimacy without due attention to the meanings of these concepts, the history behind their valorisation and their impact on politics in Africa. Second, is the trope of universal youth disempowerment that is challenged by a history of youth involvement in the pinnacle of social and political affairs in many African communities raising questions about the meaning of ‘marginalization,’ the modes of youth involvement in networks and movements and the implications of these on their self-actualization. A final problem lies in the ubiquitous homogenization of youth in the literature, which flies in the face of geographical (rural-urban), ethnic, political, racial, class and religious differences that sometimes pit youth in battles against each other.
All of these problems call for interdisciplinary work that disaggregates the ‘youth’ category and that emphasizes process instead of fixed categories to better understand youth dynamism, openness to and imaginative exploitation of multiple currents.
While cognizant of the multiple ways to approach the conference theme, CODESRIA seeks papers that address the following sub-themes as they focus on African youth:
• Emphasizing process: The changing nature of social networks and social movements involving youth in Africa;
• Beyond presentism: Youth involvement in social networks and social movements in historical perspective;
• In a broader context: Youth, social networks and movements, and democratization and economic reform processes in Africa;
• The task of disaggregation: Gender, class, ethnicity and ideology in the study of youths, social networks and social movements in Africa;
• At the frontiers of imagination: life and invention by African youth in the interstices of society;
• Stability and movement: Forging ties in an age of mobility and flows;
Those interested in participating in the conference are invited to send their abstracts and CVs with full contact details including email addresses and phone numbers to CODESRIA not later than March 15, 2014. Authors of abstracts selected should be ready to submit full papers by May 31, 2014. All documents should be sent by email to email@example.com. Please use the subject ‘Child and youth’ when sending your email.