The Time of Youth Work, Social Change, and Politics in Africa

New publication by former Prince Claus chairholder Alcinda Honwana

The Time of Youth is one of the most comprehensive considerations to date of the situation of young people in contemporary Africa—their social, economic, and political location, and the diverse imaginings with which they seek to reproduce and reform their worlds.Focusing on a careful comparison of four national contexts in which youth, deprived of the means of sustaining an adult existence, strive to reshape the landscape of civic life, Honwana convinces us that the African cases reveal what is an ever more world-wide situation.”—JEAN COMAROFF, Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago

Most young Africans are living in “waithood,” a period of suspension between childhood and adulthood. Failed neo-liberal economic policies, bad governance and political instability have caused stable jobs to disappear—without jobs that pay living wages, these young people cannot support families, thus becoming fully participating members of society. As this limbo becomes pervasive and prolonged, waithood in Africa becomes seemingly permanent, gradually replacing conventional adulthood. And with the deepening of the world economic crisis, youth in Europe, North America and other parts of the world face the same crisis of joblessness and restricted futures.

In The Time of Youth, Alcinda Honwana examines the lives of young people in Africa, drawing on in-depth interviews in four countries: Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. While the case studies are local to Africa, the book argues that the ”waithood generation” is global, and possesses a tremendous transformative potential, as young people believe the struggle to overcome their predicament requires radical social and political change. From riots and protests in the streets of Maputo, Dakar, Madrid, London, New York and Santiago, to revolutions that overthrow dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the ”waithood generation” is taking upon itself to redress the wrongs of contemporary society and remake the world.

Alcinda Honwana is a Visiting Professor of Anthropology and International Development at the Open University (UK), and at Columbia University and CUNY Graduate Centre in New York (USA) and former Prince Claus chairholder at ISS.

Her latest publications include Child Soldiers in Africa, 2006; Makers & Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa, 2005 (co-edited).
Cloth, Aug 2012, 978 1 56549 471 8, $75.00
Lib Ebook, Aug 2012, 978 1 56549 473 2, $75.00
Paper, Aug 2012, 978 1 56549 472 5, $27.95
Ebook, Aug 2012, 978 1 56549 474 9, $21.99

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Publication date: 21 March 2012