Open Stream Panels ASAUK 2018

Affect, Emotion and the Political Imagination: Emergent Approaches to Studying the African State

As scholars increasingly reject the evaluation of African states against Western liberal norms, opportunities have opened up to study the state for what it is in practice and how it is experienced within society. A number of approaches have emerged, including ethnographic explorations of state bureaucracies, and analyses of encounters with its bureaucrats, many of which blur the lines between formal and informal governance mechanisms and institutions. In this panel, we aim to build on this emergent trend to focus on the powerful emotions and affective relations that states elicit. We aim to consider how ordinary citizens and civil servants experience the state through a range of feelings, emotions and affects generated both by encounters with and within state institutions, and through perceptions of its absence. In this we draw on work by Laszczkowski and Reeves (2015) and Artexaga (2003) to engage with the ways in which the state is produced through emotions and their “embodied responses”. Considering the realm of affect allows us to take seriously how power emerges from imagined relations, expectations and illusions, and the ways in which values and norms emanate from subjective and intersubjective experiences with the state. The papers in this panel explore, for example, how hope, disillusion, and fear constitute, shape, and transform relationships between citizens, civil servants, and the state at different historical junctures. In all of our cases, ranging from Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone to Eritrea and Uganda, we push against notions of African states as “failed” or “absent” or “corrupt”, to focus instead on how affective relations shape how the state is imagined and enacted in meaningful ways and on the political subjectivities that emerge as a result.

  • Affect, Emotion and the Political Imagination: Notes on the State in Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, Enria, Luisa, (University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom) and Verheul, Susanne, (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)”
  • Keeping the dream alive: Exploring post-liberation loyalties in Eritrea  , Cole, Georgia, (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)
  • Anxiety, Affectation and the ‘State’: Commentaries around poisoning evictions in West Nile, North-West Uganda, Storer, Elizabeth, (LSE, London, United Kingdom)

African anticolonial writing: the literary and the political

This interdisciplinary panel will explore literary and political writing in African anticolonial histories, looking at
texts in English, French and Portuguese. Drawing on a growing body of scholarship focused on situating literarytexts within international political thought, as well as debates in materialist literary studies about the limits of ‘literary politics’ and ‘culturalism’, we seek to interrogate the innovative articulations of the relationships between writing and politics that characterised African anticolonial practice and to ask how this history might ground contemporary theorising in postcolonial studies.

The papers in this panel seek to bring forward the historical, geographical and linguistic contingency of
understandings of the relationships between the literary and the political, and between political organising and
print cultures. How was the relationship between the literary and the political understood by those affiliated to
anticolonial movements on the continent? How did relationships between politics and culture evolve in postcolonial Africa? How is it possible to read literary texts as political today without reducing them to their
ideological content?

  • The weapon of culture: anticolonial thought and practice from Paris and Dakar to Havana and Algiers, Gruffydd Jones, Branwen (Cardiff University, UK)
  • “Anticolonial Writing in West African Newspapers (1919-39)”, Younis, Musab (Cardiff University, UK)
  • Beyond realism and formalism: anticolonial conceptions of political writing, Reza, Alexandra (University of Oxford, UK)
  • Beyond Negritude: imagining race and independence in 1920s African anti-colonial writing, Murphy, David ( University of Stirling, UK)

Alternative histories of decolonisation in Southern Africa

In Southern Africa, the second half of the twentieth century was a time of turmoil characterised by the dramatic collapse of colonial rule in Mozambique and Angola, while white minority regimes in Rhodesia, South Africa and Namibia obstinately resisted political change in the face of growing opposition from nationalist liberation movements. While the power struggles shaping these developments were nationally and regionally grounded, they also represented complicated local inflections of Cold War politics and the emerging global economic recession. Scholarly understandings of the late decolonisation period in the region are rich and well established. Much of this work focuses on key political figures and movements; the wars and contestation of liberation; the economic changes (or lack thereof) brought about by decolonisation; the social changes wrought by these events and their impact on people’s lives.

This panel seeks to draw together new research offering alternative histories of decolonisation and liberation in Southern Africa – not to displace the established narratives, but to cast new light on the contestations of this period. It invites papers dealing with – but not confined to – shifts in cultural formations; new or altered  social practices; emerging conflicts within or between ethnic, religions, or other social groups; and changing political imaginaries in the region which demonstrate new interpretations of, or unorthodox avenues for exploring the transformations and contestations characterising the region during this period.

  • Return of the Founder? L Ron Hubbard and the Growth of Scientology in Southern Rhodesia, Pilossof, Rory, (Senior Lecturer, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
  • From sweetheart to Frankenstein: White workers and the dual nature of the late apartheid state., van Zyl-Hermann, Danelle, (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
  • Problematic Pasts and Fractured Futures: Imagining Decolonisation in Apartheid Namibia, 1945-1990, McCullers, Molly, (University of West Georgia, Atlanta, GA, United States)
  • Socialism and liberation: villagers and freedom fighters in Mgagao, Tanzania, Pallotti, Arrigo, (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)

Between Empire and Republic: The Witwatersrand in a Globalising World

The nineteenth century was a period of accelerated globalisation and modernisation that established and enhanced global integration. In southern Africa, the discovery of minerals set in motion a process that reverberated far beyond the region’s new mines. Paul Kruger’s South African Republic (ZAR) was faced with the challenges of rapid modernisation and the quest to establish a modern administration, while regional and imperial powers vied for influence.

People, animals, goods and capital were drawn together through connections and networks that reached across the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The networks that emerged were both local and transnational, formal and informal, between individuals and groups, as well as companies, states and institutions – all within a society undergoing rapid modernisation. They connected politicians, proletarians, bureaucrats and bar owners. These connections brought tensions between governments, mining houses, immigrants and policemen. They also forged new forms of cooperation and patronage. Studying these multifaceted interactions enable us to better understand the patterns of behaviour that emerged under such conditions in the late nineteenth century.

In order to explore the process in the Transvaal, it is imperative to understand the global forces at play, as well as their wider regional implications, which influenced and shaped local developments in southern Africa. For this reason we seek to explore these themes in a panel that draws together the local and the global perspectives, which will help us to examine these broader transnational connections, to stimulate conversation and debate, and to enhance our understanding of late-nineteenth century southern Africa.

  • “The Story of a Conspiracy”: Policing the Witwatersrand on the Brink of War, Muller, Cornelis ( Sol Plaatje University, South Africa)
  • ‘A mutually corrupt relationship’: The Kruger state, the Dynamite Concession and the Transvaal Concessions Commission, c.1900, Koorts, Lindie (University of the Free State, South Africa)
  • Between Empire and Republic: Johannesburg’s financial networks in a globalizing world, 1886-1902, Lukasiewicz, Mariusz (“Institute for African Studies University of Leipzig”,Germany)

Biography and narratives of life in Africa

Most writers on biography seem to agree that the genre is almost borderless, ranging from brief obituaries to multi-volume studies and even overlapping with autobiography. The term ‘biography’ implies one restriction, that examples should be written. This panel sets out to examine what might constitute the range of the biographical genre in Africa, as well as the nature of biographical production today: about African subjects, and about practices within Africa. Papers on the study of individual lives, or groups of lives, are welcome, as are more general surveys of regions, types, or particular languages. We are keen to explore biography-writing as well as the possibilities of life narratives in oral forms, and how these may enrich the genre.

Biography and narratives of life in Africa 1 – Chair: Brian Willan 

  • Towards a biography of John Koenakeefe Mohl (1903-85), southern African painter of landscapes-with-figures, Parsons, Neil, (Independent Researcher, London, United Kingdom)
  • Means, methods and motives in African diasporic biography in Britain 1770 to the early twentieth century., Killingray, David, (Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom)
  • Lives matter: biography-writing in Africa, Hughes, Heather, (University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom)

Biography and narratives of life in Africa 2 – Chair: Heather Hughes

  • Isaiah Bud-M’belle (1870-1947): biographical reflections, Willan, Brian, (ISEA, Rhodes University, Cullompton, United Kingdom)
  • Samuel Edward Krune Mqahyi and the navigation of Xhosa identity in the inter-war years, Kallaway, Peter, (School of Education, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Seth Mokitimi and the ‘Equality of Believers’: A Biographical Slant on Christian Multiracialism, Gaitskell, Deborah, (University of London, London, United Kingdom)

Crisis and creativity – political theory in africa 

This panel focuses on three related areas of ‘crisis and renewal’ in political theory and the history of political thought: republicanism, comparative political theory and liberation theory.

  • ‘Freedom in the Decolonizing Republic’, Professor Lawrence Hamilton (NRF/British Academy Research Professor in Political Theory, Witwatersrand and Cambridge, South african and UK)
  • ‘Decolonisation and the History of Political Thought: a case for comparative political theory in Africa’, Ayesha Omar (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
  • ‘Liberation Theory in Crisis: the case of South African student movements’, Moshibudi Motimele (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)


Mugabe’s 37-year grip on Zimbabwe came to a dramatic end following a military intervention in November 2018. The event has since sparked debates around the nature of the military takeover, which the Zimbabwe military was adamant that it was not a coup, while others have described it as a unique or soft coup. The military intervention saw the Zimbabwean population unite in marches and vigils demanding Mugabe to step down and in praise of the Generals. Given the unprecedented nature of the event, and the excitement and expectations generated among Zimbabweans, academics, governments, it is perhaps prudent to have a panel to interrogate the different dynamics of the Mugabe’s era and ouster. This panel will welcome papers that will stimulate debate on the nature of the military take-over; the roles of the military, Zimbabwean civilians both in and out of the country; Mugabe’s liability; the  role first ladies during and after the military intervention; general gender dimensions to Mugabe’s ouster; the role and responses of the international community; ideological, legal and religious dimensions to the ouster ; and analysis of the Munangagwa administration to date vis-à-vis the claim to restore legacy.

  •  “The king is dead, long live the king!”: Public sentiments on the Post-Mugabe ‘New’ Dispensation, makombe, eric, kushinga, (University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe)
  • Social Media and Playful Engagements on the Zimbabwean Economy, Marowa, Carlington, Clint Simbarashe, (University of Zimbabwe Economic History Department, Harare, Zimbabwe)
  • From grievances to violence: Recourse to violence in 2016 protests in Zimbabwe”, Mude, Torque, (Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe)”
  • Violence, Volition and Victimhood: Questioning victimhood and perpetrator narratives in Zimbabwe’s post-2000 political violence., Chitukutuke, Edmore,(University of the Witwatersrand, Witwatersand, South Africa)
  • ‘Anyone is better than Mugabe’: The Military Takeover and the Fall of Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Dzimbanhete, Jephias Andrew, (Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe)
  • A woman used and abused or a courageous user and abuser? Grace Mugabe in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s military take-over, November 2017    “Mahamba, Barbara, (University Of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe), Biri, Kudzai, (University Of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe)”

Gender, Ethnicity and Migration 

  • Beyond Borders: Angolan and Mozambican labor and education migration to the German Democratic Republic 1975-1990, Schenck, Marcia, C., (re:work, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)
  • Ethnicity across regional boundaries: migration and the politics of inequality in Ethiopia, Breines, Markus,(-, Carshalton, United Kingdom)
  • Double Pain: Sub-Saharan Women Negotiating Gender and Migration Status in the Informal Sector of Casablanca and Oujda CitiesBelhorma, Souad,(Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco)
  • Negotiating  Homeland and Return Among Female Bakassi Refugees in Cross River State., Azubuike, Chibuzor,(University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria)

Ideas and materials in African global health: local instances and global circuits.

Policies and substances are often seen as secondary to institutions, ideologies and practices in histories of health and medicine in twentieth century Africa. These histories regularly focus on the hospital or clinic, the role of doctor, pharmacist and missionary, the shaping or resistant dimensions of the patient and community response to biomedicine, and the regulating or impositional stance of colonial and successor states.

This panel opens a dialogue on the key importance of organisational level inputs of policy-making forums and distribution networks in articulating global circuits in the development of medical enterprise in specific African contexts. Thus, the papers seek to circumvent stories of bilateral colonial axes of medical development, and complement the focus on institutions and staff, leading to a richer perspective on the integration of African medical enterprise into a global framework and into comparative discourse on health systems and markets.

  • Sanitising the Colony or Re-Ordering Public Spaces: A Colonial Approach to Sanitation and Public Hygiene in Ghana, 1878-1950, Amoako-Gyampah, Akwasi, Kwarteng,  (Department of Historical Studies, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Food, gender and poverty in Accra: an economic history of nutritional health, c. 1900-2017, Nott, John, (Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands)
  • Mobile antimalarials in South-Central Africa, c. 1859-1949, Hokkanen, Markku,  (University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)
  • Building health systems in Nigeria, 1930-2000: national dilemmas, global contexts, Manton, John, (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom)

 Making sense of ‘crisis’ in South Sudan

This panel will draw on research in South Sudan to better understand how people live with ‘crisis’ from an everyday perspective. What strategies do people employ to live with – or live off – uncertainty? What do South Sudanese perspective and experiences tell us about the concept of ‘crisis’? As the current civil war enters its fourth year – and seems to be fragmenting further – there is urgent need to better understand the social impacts of chronic disaster. How might notions of ‘trauma’, ‘normalisation’ and ‘resilience’ (which profoundly shape humanitarian interventions) be more critically understood in the context of South Sudanese lives?

All papers draw from long term research in different parts of the country. Together, they bring empirical depth to the question of what it means to live with chronic disaster in South Sudan and will explore how South Sudanese experiences can inform broader understandings of the social landscape of crisis and emergency.

Chairs: Cormack, Zoe (African Studies Centre, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom) and Pendle, Naomi (London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom)

Panel 1

  • Everyday Mobility in the Midst of the Conflict, Veuillet, Emmanuelle (Panthéon-Sorbonne University, France)
  • Emerging Norms, Survival Instincts and Enduring South Sudan’s Constant Conflicts, Logo, Kuyang Harriet (University of Juba, Juba, Sudan)
  • Crisis in South Sudan and Role of Religious Spirituality, Agwella, Martin Ochaya (University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom)
  • Understanding Sexual Violence in South Sudan’s Conflict: Women as Commodities in the Violent Political Marketplace, Luedke, Alicia, (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada), Logan, Hannah (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada |London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom)

Panel 2

  • Seeing Like a Failed State: South Sudan as the Failure of Imagination, Marko, Ferenc David (Central European University, Budapest, Hungary)
  • “Then We Will Benefit”: Planning Amidst Precarity in Juba and Ramciel, South Sudan, Doll, Joseph Christian ( University of California, United States)
  • Bearing Witness in Crisis: Changing practices of journalism in South Sudan, Stupart, Richard (London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom)

Politicians’ agency-in-context: Understanding legislative politics in Eastern and Southern Africa

This panel examines the political strategies employed by elected representatives, combining different levels of analysis as well as analytical approaches. The panel investigates how MPs operate in their constituencies and in Parliament. It also includes papers addressing both the ideational underpinnings of MPs’ representative performance and the materialist pressures arising from their engagement with competing patron-client factions. First, papers drawing on in-depth fieldwork in Malawi and Kenya highlight the diversity of legitimation strategies adopted by legislators at constituency level. MPs’ contrasting “presentations of self” differ along with contextual factors and politicians’ own attitudes. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp also provide new channels through which citizens and elected officials can interact and negotiate their relationship. Moving from the constituency to the parliamentary arena, a third paper investigates how Ugandan MPs engage in policymaking, focusing on the budgetary review process. Through a study of specific efforts to amend the national budget, the paper notes how MPs deploy contrasting discursive strategies to legitimate their actions, which are nevertheless motivated to a large extent by underlying factional tensions. Despite coming at the topic from different angles, these papers converge in their rejection of simplistic “neo-patrimonial” ideas about legislators and their performance. There is, first, an appreciation for the varied relations politicians forge within their constituencies; second, there is an explicit focus on the complex interaction between informal patronage politics and legislative-executive bargaining. Together, these fresh perspectives can shed light on an understudied and, arguably, poorly understood dimension of politics in Eastern and Southern Africa.

  • “Contesting social contracts in Zambian Parliamentary constituencies”, Fraser, Alastair, (SOAS, London, United Kingdom)
  • Malawian MPs in their constituencies: performing authority, (re)constructing legitimacy?, Fisher, Calum (SOAS, London, United Kingdom)
  • Legislative strengthening and distributive politics in Africa: The Ugandan case, Collard, Michaela, (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)
  • “Contesting political legitimacy through Facebook: Electoral campaigns and social media use in Mombasa, Kenya”, Diepeveen, Stephanie, (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Religion and cross-cultural transformations in West-Africa, 16th-19th centuries

The aim of this panel is to analyse religious and cultural exchange as a central element in shaping West-African societies. This was a complex and fluid process that challenges simplistic notions about cultural and social identities. The panel will include the following confirmed presentations:

Discussant: Toby Green (King’s College London, UK)

  •  “A Sea vodun in the Slave Trade: the example of Adantoxu leadership at the slaving port of Ouidah (XVIII or XIX century)”, Emmanuelle Kadya Tall (EHSS, Paris)
  •  “God of Christendom, the Bishopric of Kongo, and African Religious Freedom in Central West Africa (XVII Century): The Case of Emanuel Sa, from Angola to the Vatican”, Jose Lingna Nafafe (Bristol, UK)
  •  “«To civilize the blacks»: the Church and the colonial project for Angola (1764-1790)”, Hugo Ribeiro da Silva (Kings College London, UK)

 Rethinking violence: discourse, representations, and meanings

Despite being endemic to societies across the globe, violence in its many manifestations remains poorly understood. Even though it is often simply thought of as a destructive force and social aberration, violence can be ‘productive’, ‘destructive’ as well as ‘reproductive’, as Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philip Bourgois argue. This panel sets out to examine violence in its many forms, representations, and meanings. Themes will include, for example, the role of affect, memory, and subjectivity, the spatiality of violence, representation and discourse, and the relation between different forms of violence.

  • Combattants and Kivucians : Beyond Ethno-regional violence among Congolese immigrants of Cape Town, Vuninga, Rosette, (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)
  • The Post-Colonial State And The Puzzle Of Tribe: Making sense of mass violence in Uganda’s Rwenzori area, Sseremba, Yahya, (MAISR – Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda)
  • ‘The place where all the victims went’: Hostels, violence, and the discourse of victimhood, Rueedi, Franziska, (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Stammering Tongue, Mupotsa, Danai, (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Liu, Xin, (University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Revisiting the civil war in Mozambique

This panel will discuss a new book, and some of its chapter authored by the participants, entitled The War Within. New Perspectives on the Civil War in Mozambique, 1976-1992 (James Currey: 2018).  The historiography on armed conflict in Mozambique has been narrowly focused until recently on Renamo, its external nature and its social basis, ignoring other actors of the war and other facets of the conflict. The panel participants will discuss armed movements before Renamo appeared, the state army deployment and evolution, Renamo’s internal dynamic, churches and NGOs, as well as the independent popular militia which emerged in the 1990s. Beyond the military, into the social, economic and ecological, this panel will revisit the history of civil war in Mozambique between 1976 and 1992.

  • “The Anti-Frelimo Movements and the War in Zambezia”, Sérgio Chichava (Instituto de Estudos Economicos e Sociais, Mozambique)
  •  “Spiritual power and the dynamics of war in the Provinces of Nampula and Zambézia”, Corinna Jentzsch  (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • “The War as seen by Renamo: Guerrilla politics and the “move to the North” at the time of the Nkomati Accord (1983-1985)”, Michel Cahen (L’Afrique dans le Monde, SciencePo Bordeaux, France)
  • “War in Inhambane: Re-shaping State, Society and Economy”,  Eric Morier-Genoud  (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)

State-making from below: New approaches to ‘the African state’

This panel wants to challenge two pervasive ideas about African states. The first is that states ‘think’ in a particular, inevitable way; and the second is that states are shaped only by elites acting within the constraints of the international realm. The literature on the state in Africa has often seen it as somewhat divorced from the population within its bounds ‘Extraverted’, a ‘gatekeeper’.  In contrast, this panel explores how African states are brought into being through the ways the populous think about them and engage with them, in a variety of ways in different political and social contexts.

Papers present work that explores some of the ways citizens/ordinary people imagine and create their states and the variety of forms of statehood that are realised in these ways. Papers tackle bottom-up ideas of state personality and state authority; popular conceptions of the state’s role in the world; and how people help realise statehood through engagement with its banal aspects.

  • Military Intervention and State Formation: Lessons from Chad, Daga, Moudwe,(Royal Holloway, University of London, EGHAM, United Kingdom)
  • State personality and state authority: a reading through architecture, Gallagher, Julia, (Royal Holloway University of London, London, United Kingdom)
  • Post-party Politics? Local, National and Transnational Dimensions of Liberia’s 2017 Elections”, Harris, David,(University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom), Pailey, Robtel,(University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)
  • Ghana’s prisons – what it means to be Subject to State power, Routley, Laura,(Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom)

Student Activism in an Era of Multiparty Politics

Over the last couple of decades, a rich academic literature on student activism in Africa has focused on the impact of neoliberal restructuring of African higher education on trajectories of student activism on the continent.  This body of scholarship has convincingly highlighted some of the ways in which austerity reforms produced dramatic changes in African university students’ social status, expectations and strategies and objectives of political activism.  That said, in their emphasis on ‘material roots’ of student activism at African universities during this period, these scholars have tended to obscure the myriad of ways in which African universities remained deeply embedded in “wider political process[es] and struggle[s] (Klopp and Orina 2002: 45).”

In this panel, we seek to elucidate the political determinants of student activism late-20th Century/early-21st Century Africa, by considering a couple of central questions: First, how did these broader political changes related to processes of democratization and neoliberal reform alter the relationship between the state and university students in African countries? What role if any did the emergence of new opposition political parties play in changing the political dynamics of campus activism in Africa? What new forms of collaboration or contestation between African university students and other sections of youth emerged in these newly liberalized, national political spaces during these years?

  • From Intellectuals to Party Youth: Student Activism, the Movement for Democratic Change and the Struggle for Zimbabwe, Hodgkinson, Dan, (Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom)
  • Beyond the Struggle: South African student movements during the transition era (1990-1996)     Heffernan, Anne K., (University of Witwatersrand, Witwatersrand, South Africa)
  • “It is a Fact, I am Co-opted”: Student Activism and the State in Kenya, 1995-2000, Melchiorre, Luke, (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
  • Political implications of struggles for student welfare in Niger in the early 1990s, Smirnova, Tatiana, (Centre d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques CESSMA, Paris VII –IRD-INALCO, Paris, France)


Violence, Protest and Discipline at african universities

  • A Hundred Years of University Education in South Africa: Any Cause for Celebration? With Special Reference to the University of South Africa, Andrew Hayden Manson (University of South Africa, South Africa)
  • Re-reading the “Fees Must Fall” Student Protests and Responses in South Africa: The Case of University of the Western Cape, Naume Choguya (University of the Western Cape, South Africa and Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation)
  • When Comrades Become Radicalized: Students’ Fears, Everyday Relations and Perceptions of Security in Moi University, Kenya, Bernard Musembi ( University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation)
  • Surveillance, Spying and Disciplining the University: Deployment of State Security Agents on Campus in Zimbabwe, Simbarashe Gukurume ( University of Cape Town, South Africa and Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation)

Youth at the margins in sub-Saharan Africa

This panel explores perspectives on the lives of the growing number of youth living at the margins of economic and political life in Africa. A burgeoning body of anthropological and sociological research is opening up young peoples’ experiences of globalised markets, the state, and religious institutions. Studies emphasise young people’s agency, showing how they actively seek to shape these institutions, imbuing them with new meaning. This work has however predominantly considered youth who, while certainly at the ‘margins’ in many ways, could be considered at the ‘centre’ in one important respect; they live in urban areas, close to economic, political and religious power. We are interested in the lives of those millions of young people who still live outside of Africa’s cities, in small towns, trading centres and rural villages. These are of course not isolated; centre and periphery shape each other and are becoming increasingly connected, for example through migration and technology. Nevertheless, they have distinct characters, and understanding the experiences of young people outside the African metropolis allows us to reconceptualise the ‘margins’. This requires paying analytical attention to interconnection as much as disjuncture to expand the way we think about the position of young people in African societies. This panel brings together perspectives from Malawi, Uganda and Sierra Leone to explore questions about what it means to be young outside the city; how market, state and religious institutions influence young people in small towns and villages; and how circular migration trends shape the experiences of young people living at the margins.

  • In the Shadow of Crisis: Youth, Ebola and State Power in Rural Sierra Leone, Enria, Luisa, (University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom)
  • Youths, elders and the possibilities of migration in rural Malawi, Wroe, Daniel, (University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom)
  • Enjoying ‘Leisure Time’: Youth, Education and Farming in Rural Uganda, Jones, Ben, (University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom)