Panel: Rethinking the Definitions and Locations of Youth Politics in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa Chairs: Gözde Burcu Ege & Kyle Benedict Craig The Arab uprisings of 2010-2011 compelled scholars to a radical rethinking of politics in general and youth politics in particular. One thing the uprisings underscored was that young people are not merely trapped in a liminal space while waiting to enter mainstream society in adulthood; rather they are themselves key sociopolitical actors. One reason the uprisings seemed to come “out of nowhere” for some scholars and other observers was because underexplored were the everyday contexts where Middle East and North Africa (MENA) youth were forming a complex array of responses to a region undergoing increasing class inequality from decades of neoliberal “reforms,” as well as various imperial and regional conflicts. This panel therefore comprises papers that ethnographically examine MENA youth as an analytical category through a range of experiences including “overt” political movements as well as youths’ own personal lives and seemingly mundane practices as an area of politics in the years since late 2010-2011. Two of the papers on this panel explore how state, educational, activist or international or local humanitarian/charitable projects position youth as vanguards of a utopian future, of a modern pious subjectivity, as objects of anxiety and suspicion, or a unique and paradoxical intersection of these ideological formations. By considering these projects modes of governance, the panel addresses how and to what extent youth subjectivities form in relation to these projects as well as what other discourses might inform their subjectivities and life-worlds. The events of 2010-2011 engendered a heightened interest in the ways MENA youth construct and mobilize politics through their engagements with cultural and artistic production and popular culture. This is in large part due to the prominent role various artistic media such as hip-hop, poetry, and graffiti played in the uprisings. Building off and at the same time pivoting from scholarly conversations around MENA youth cultural production during the past decade, this panel includes two papers that examine how everyday politics constitute and are constituted through aesthetic and artistic practices that are not always explicitly revolutionary. The panelists are also collectively interested in the nexus between youth politics and temporalities; how imagining or predicting the future is often a near-constant pastime in the lives of young people. How, for example, does the future’s relation to sentiments such as optimism, hope, hopelessness, boredom, or liminality shape forms of youth sociability in the present? Similarly, how do youths’ experiences in contemporary MENA societies inform theories and practices around morality or the good life? Furthermore, building off studies that complicate strict teleological conceptions of youth, and rather examine claims to “youthfullness” (Bayat 2013), this panel offers ethnographic cases exploring phenomena that expand who counts as a youth.
Next from AAA Annual Meeting 2021
Negotiating Charity and Humanitarianism in the Youth Volunteers' Practices in the Palestinian Refugee Camps of Jordan
AAA Annual Meeting 2021
18 November 2021