Middle East ‐ Topics & Arguments – special issue on “Youth”


Christoph H. Schwarz & Anika Oettler

Middle East ‐ Topics & Arguments, vol. 9/2017

The uprisings of 2011 challenged many predominant concepts of ‘youth’ in the Middle East and North Africa. The peer reviewed, open access journal META (Middle East – Topics & Arguments) dedicates its current thematic issue to youth research in the region, and critically engages with the respective theoretical and methodological discussions. META_#09_s1_titel_RZ


In the EDITORIAL, the editors Christoph H. Schwarz and Anika Oettler, introduce the issue and suggest a perspective that takes into account the ‘political temporalities of youth’.

The ANTI/THESIS section opens the debate and presents two complementary arguments in this regard. In turning to the specificities of youth claims, Asef Bayat discusses if there is a particular ‘youth politics’, whereas Jörg Gertel highlights the prolonged socio-economic dependency of young people on parents, kin, and social network

In the theory-oriented META section, Linda Herrea argues that “any meaningful conceptualization of, and engagement with, youth and generations in North Africa and West Asia should incorporate the notion of precariat and the condition of precariousness.” Herrera concludes that “entrepreneurship is not the solution”. Shana Cohen, in turn, engages with a particular type of entrepreneurship – social entrepreneurship – as a specific form of agency that connects individual activism under the conditions of global capitalism with maneuvering for local political influence.

In the CLOSE-UP section, Helena Nassif draws a portrait of Ahmed Abdalla, the former leader of the Egyptian student movement, later community worker and founder of the Markaz al-Geel (‘Generation center’) in Cairo.

The FOCUS section represents a collection of articles that explore different analytical options of dealing with youth in the MENA region. While some articles shed light on the power of prominent youth paradigms in international organizations and NGOs, others focus on both the constraints in realizing youthfulness and the possibilities of agency in difficult times. Mayssoun Sukarieh presents a critical analysis of the 2016 Arab Human Development Report to demonstrate that the youth paradigm is currently mobilized in a way that is connected to a “whole set of problematic analyses and responses that are prejudiced against and harmful” to youth. In a similar vein, Ann-Kristin Wagner picks up the issue of youth as a key security and development concern in analyzing NGO youth politics in the Jordanian town of Mafraq. Refugees are also the subject of Magdalena Suerbaum’s article on Syrian young men in Cairo. From a largely socio-psychological perspective, Suerbaum portrays forced migrants as on a difficult path into masculine adulthood in a “situation of utter despair, instability and liminality”. Bruno Lefort turns once again to stories of agency and describes how students of the American University of Beirut, as members of a postwar generation – and in their relationships with the war generation – manage space and social relationships, taking a distance from sectarianisms, corruption, and gender inequality, often ascribing a new subjective meaning to these spaces. Jakob Krais then takes us back to colonial Algeria, and describes generational conflict and the importance of play communities and sports clubs in creating and fostering anti-colonial nationalism in French Algeria from the 1930s until independence in 1962.


Read the issue online: http://meta-journal.net/issue/view/191