Youth and the city: expressive cultures, public space appropriation, and alternative political participation

junio 14, 2012 – junio 16, 2012

COORDINADORES: Lorenzo Bordonaro | Frank Marcon


This panel aims to bring together work on the forms of presence of urban youth in contemporary Africa, emphasizing the centrality of youth in the processes of appropriation and reconfiguration of public spaces and their relevance as political actors. Despite their demographic presence, and the recurrence of the issue of youth in political and electoral programs, young people often remain marginalized or de facto excluded from active participation in political systems. Moreover, the adoption of neo-liberal economic models triggered the emergence of new forms of inequality, whose incidence is more acute in urban settings and that strongly affect the new generations. At the same time, urban areas, whose population grew rapidly throughout the continent, have become privileged site of cultural production and creativity, and main scenes for young people´s cultural expressions, as well as places of more overtly violent manifestations in which young people are often involved. This panel aims to explore these and other phenomena that can be deemed as ´alternative´ forms of public participation of young people in Africa, pointing to the new generations as key actors in the public and media space in contemporary society.
We want to show on the one hand how young people can invent or appropriate expressive forms, making them instruments of explicit social criticism in the public space. While witnessing this proliferation of expressive cultures, we want to highlight how the mechanisms of production and consumption go far beyond the national boundaries, and can gather the diasporas and the contexts of origin in the formulation of defiant messages.
On the other hand, we encourage reflection on the ambiguous and more violent forms of youth participation. We allude to the more forceful means of political contestation (the ´revolutions´ unleashed recently in the Maghreb, for example), but also acts whose political interpretation is more difficult, as in the case of new forms of urban violence and youth gangs. This panel seeks to interpret these phenomena as the outcome of collective agency, exploring the semantics of violence and its explicit or implicit political significance.

Idiomas: Inglés, Portugués y Español

Formato: Discussant

Información del panel

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