Os envio la llamada para contribuciones en el panel “Young People in North Africa and Middle East: Explorations within a Social and Moral Experience” (panel 26), XIII Annual Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMo): “MIGRANTS: COMMUNITIES, BORDERS, MEMORIES, CONFLICTS”University of Catania, Italy, 17-19 March 2016.
Daniele Cantini, Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Deadline to present abstracts
December (please write to the authors)
Although the condition of the young people in North Africa and Middle East has been explored in various works throughout the last two decades, the recent events have contributed to generate a growing interest for the topic, which seem to be at the core of many processes concerning the region in the recent times. From the massive investment in international migration to the engaged activism during the uprisings of 2011 until the latest appeal of armed jihadism, young people have been considered the most active actors of the (mainly frustrated) attempts of social change. Despite their manifest difference, behind these strategies lies the common expectation of subverting the many inequalities which affect the possibilities of personal development and recognition. Some works have used the notion of “waithood” to designate the social and moral condition of the Arab youth in their societies: originally proposed by Diane Singerman in 2007 and rearticulated by Assaad and al. in 2009 and by Honwana (2013) more recently, the concept is generally used to describe the suspension due to the deferred access to a recognized social role through work and marriage. Besides being probably the most significant factor in generating pessimism and distrust about the future, this “void” (as it is sometimes referred) works as a cohesive process to produce what Emma Murphy has called “a generational narrative of systemic failure” (2012), one which contributes to the evidence of a “juvenile problem” in these societies (for example absorbing all who are not able to find a job within the category of youth). It is not irrelevant, therefore, to acknowledge that the category of “Arab youth” is also the product of specific practices, to which neither global values and marketing nor the same social sciences are extraneous. Moreover, as some critics have pointed out, discourses and policies regarding “the youth” may also be used to treat the political demands of social equity as mere problems of “young participation”. As a matter of fact, the research among different social groups allows to show that, alongside commonalities, many differences can still be traced across classes, genders, ethnicities and even age cohorts. This panel welcomes contributions that explore the notion of youth in North Africa and Middle East, whether by discussing the category or describing its characteristics in different places. The aim is to investigate the moral and social condition of the young people of the area – focussing in particular on their expectations, desires, frustrations, and imaginaries (also the migratory ones) – but also to observe how the same notion of youth is used, manipulated, constructed or contested by different actors. This will help to consider at once the many levels (social, economic, political, representational) involved in the production of the experience of “being young” without losing sight of how this experience is actually lived out by the people and the many consequences that it generates.