More than a decade and half ago, Donal Cruise-O’Brien (1996) had declared that the African youth were ‘a lost generation.’ This fatalistic summation of the fate of the African youth was perhaps for good reason. The enormous socio-economic and cultural forces surrounding the lives of young people in Africa were [and still are] simply daunting. And at the very core of this seemingly insurmountable socio-economic atmosphere are the pervasive unjust protocols of postcolonial regimes under which most African youth live. Indeed, more recent scholarship suggests that there is no respite yet for the African youth as the hopeless situation has escalated (See Abbink, Jon and Ineke Van Kessel 2005 & Alcinda Honwana and Filip De Boeck 2005). On account of the inclement socio-economic and political circumstances surrounding young people in Africa, what we are now witnessing across the entire continent is what Mamodou Douf (2003) describes as the ‘dramatic irruption of young people in both the domestic and public spheres,’ putting young people at the very heart of the continent’s socio-economic and political imagination (Durham 2006). But the challenges facing African youth are not peculiar to them.
All over the world, the new sociology of youth points to a growing concern about the ramifications of globalization, late modernity and general global social and economic restructuring for the lives and futures of young people. But amidst the lingering fears of the future of the young, scholars have also called for a deep reflection and rethinking of young people’s own resilience and agency in the midst of these turbulent times. This special issue of African Identities, tentatively entitled Late Modernity and Agency: Youth Cultures in Africa, seeks to reflect on the varied contours of youth responses to social change in Sub-Saharan Africa. While young people in Africa continue to face extraordinary social challenges in their everyday lives, what are the unique ways in which they have reinvented their circumstances to keep afloat in the midst of seismic global social changes? Papers are solicited on a wide range of topics on the African youth that may unravel young people not only as victims but also as active social actors in the face of a shifting global modernity. The themes may include amongst others,
– African Youth and Globalization
– Late Modernity and Social Change
– Youth and Media-Film, Television, Video, Internet, etc
– Hip-hop, Club Cultures and other forms of Popular culture
– Mobility and Social Media
– Gender and New Economies of Youth
– Democracy, Power and Youth Activism
– Youth and Conflict in Africa
– New Subjectivities and Agency
– Neo-Pentecostalism as Subculture
– The Informal Economy and Invented Pathways
– Lifestyles and Identity Constructions
– New Spatial Politics in Public and Domestic Spaces
Abstracts of not more than 500 words (including name, position, institutional affiliation, and email contact) may be sent to P.UGor@bham.ac.uk no later than September 30th, 2011. This special issue of African Identities will be published in the summer of 2012.