CAAAR presents “Youthful Futures: Africa and the Caribbean Conference” at Duke University




This exciting and lively symposium was hosted by the Center for African and African American Research (CAAAR) at Duke UniversityFriday 4/28 & Saturday 4/29, Friedl Building Room 225, East Campus. See the blurb below that parsed the symposium’s concerns.

Seven out of ten Africans south of the Sahara are under thirty, and four out of ten under the age of fifteen. What comparisons might be drawn with the Caribbean, a region that is transitioning from youthful to aging if it is not yet graying (along with the rest of the world)? The Center for African and African-American Research at Duke University invites you to join us to discuss the significance of population age structure in sub-Saharan Africa – the only part of the world which will continue to grow younger over the next two decades – and in the Caribbean, and to explore the broad social, cultural and political implications of youth demographics.

As recently as one or two generations ago, African youth were typically a subordinated category, subject to the dictates of elders. Today, this is no longer so because of the youth bulge, the circulation of global discourses celebrating youth and youth culture, because of the internet and social networks, and because important sources of external funding target youth rather than elders. The once sacrosanct principle of seniority runs up against a premium conferred upon “social cadets” with consequences for hierarchies of knowledge and power. The young gain social heft not only by their sheer numbers but also as groups more open to risk-taking in an era of accelerated globalization, where the market reigns supreme and consumerism offers powerful alternatives, and in which the idea of the individual supersedes that of the collective. African youth offer alternatives to the age-linked accumulation of experience, traditional politics and culture.

The Youthful Futures conference will address these issues during five sessions on Friday, April 29, and on Saturday morning, April 30. Each session will feature speakers (30 minutes) with a round-table discussion (1 hour) to follow. The number of participants has been purposely restricted to permit direct and lively exchanges. The singularity of this conference consists in bringing together academics, policy makers, NGO field workers and journalists. Its aim is to overcome the balkanization of the youth question and, ultimately, to explore ways of keeping this new and broader conversation going.

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