2007Number of visits: 2310
For the 2007 session of the Institute, the theme that has been selected is African Youth Cultures and the ICT Revolution. This is a theme that has become crucial to explore not only because of the increasingly important place which new information and communications technologies (ICTs) are occupying in the lives and outlook of the younger members of society but also the variety of cultures and sub-cultures which are being woven around them in the making of contemporary youth identity. The global ICT revolution has been refracted into Africa in a variety of forms, including mobile telephony, global telecasts delivered locally in real time, new generation video machines, new digital technologies covering an ever-widening range of applications, computers and computer-based technologies, and internet services. These new ICTs have impacted directly on economy and society in many different ways that have been the objects of some research in terms of the manner in which they are transforming broad social practices and modes of economic organisation. While there is still much more work to be done on the transformatory impact of ICTs on African economies and societies, there are even more urgent challenges in assessing the ways in which various societal players may be responding to the entry of the new ICTs into the contemporary socio-economic and political processes. Of particular interest in this regard are the youths, a social category which is generally more adaptable to technological changes but which, in any case, has figured among the quickest and largest numbers of takers in the rapidly changing technological terrain that has characterised the last two decades in Africa. In the hands of the African youth - as, indeed, the youth elsewhere in the world – ICTs have been a powerful tool in the making and re-making of identities which carry generational and inter-generational implications; they have also spurned new cultures and sub-cultures which have been the objects of anecdotal comments but hardly of systematic research. In what ways, for example, has the mobile phone become a part of youth identities and what cultures and sub-cultures have developed around it? How are the ICTs affecting inter-generational perceptions and relationships? What kinds of real and virtual communities are being forged by a generation of African youth adept at working the internet and negotiating the cyber space? Responding to these questions and others of their type calls for careful empirical research that might enable the research community to better understand the dialectics of the ICTs in relation to the youth in Africa. Under what conditions are the ICTs empowering and in what circumstances do they become disempowering of the youth? Are young Africans only in the ICTs market as consumers or are they also innovators at the frontier of the adaptation of the technologies to the exigencies of the local environment that they inhabit? Are the ICTs and the borderlessness which they imply in some cases evidence of the emergence of a new generation of globalised citizens or the harbingers of new boundaries that require to be surmounted?
Through the theme of the 2007 session, participants in the Institute are being invited to undertake a critical assessment of the different dimensions of youth cultures and sub-cultures associated with the ICTs.