Youth political activism has been challenging Middle East and North African political systems frequently and forcefully over the last decade. This is not a new phenomenon, of course. Young people have historically stood at the forefront of popular uprisings and cultural movements. Demographic realities in the Middle East have increased the latent potential for disruptive youth activism. Nearly 60 percent of people in the region fall under the age of 30, half of whom are aged between 15 and 29, and in almost every country, unemployment for working-age youth exceeds the overall jobless rate. The failures of the 2011 Arab uprisings to achieve lasting democratic change revealed the limits of street protests, but the underlying problems remain profoundly unresolved. How are young people questioning, subverting, and transforming the boundaries of politics in the post-uprising Middle East and North Africa?
In June 2019, the Project on Middle East Political Science convened a workshop on youth politics in Amman, Jordan, in cooperation with the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies. The workshop’s papers and deliberations sought to unpack the meaning of youth politics. What characterizes the latest wave of youth mobilization? How is youth activism, and youth politics, changing public attitudes and government policies? Can any generalizations be made about youthfulness, and the experience of being young and political, in the Middle East today? The essays contained in POMEPS Studies 36: Youth Politics in the Middle East and North Africa attempt to answer these questions. They come from scholars who, through intensive fieldwork in varying countries, study the origins and processes of activism among young people through diverse methodologies and orientations.
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Introduction: Youth Politics in the Middle East and North Africa, Sean Yom, Marc Lynch, and Wael al-Khatib
Informality and Organization
Youth Politics in Contemporary Turkey: Political Hegemony, Hybrid Incorporation, and Youth (De-)Mobilization (2010-2016), Begum Uzun, University of Toronto
Youth Politics in Tunisia: Comparing Land/Labor, Leftist Movements, and NGO-ized Elites, Matt Gordner, University of Toronto & South Mediterranean University
Missing Youth in Tunisia? Implications of Regional Disparities and Center-Periphery Divide, Giulia Cimini, Università L’Orientale of Naples
Youth Political Participation and Attitudes in Contemporary Morocco, Yousra Kadi, Mohammed First University Oujda
Revolutionary Youth Politics: From Seizing to Sharing Power, Dina El-Sharnouby, American University of Cairo
Expanding the Political Agenda
Young Women, Sexual Violence, and the Pursuit of Justice Amid Weakening State Institutions: The Case of Turkey’s Campus Witches, Sarah Fischer, Marymount University
‘Waging a war not only on coal but much more‘: Types of Youth Activism among Egyptians against the Coal Movement, Zeina Moneer, The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden
Youth, Activism, and Protest: Jordan’s Movement Against Israeli Gas, Curtis R. Ryan, Appalachian State University
The Struggle to Re-Politicize the Political: The Discourse on Economic Rights in the Jordanian Popular Movement 2011-2012, Sara Ababneh, University of Jordan
The Reckoning of History: Young Activists, Tribal Elders, and the Uses of the Past in Jordan, Yazan Doughan, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University
Evolving and Adaptive
Informal Education and Youth Culturing in Post-Gülenist Turkey, Aydin Ozipek, Northwestern University
Heroism and Adulthood among Arrested Youth in East Jerusalem, Makiko Nambu, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
The New Lost Boys of Sudan, Sarah A Tobin, CMI
A Revolutionary Generation? Assessing Standards of Political Efficacy among MENA Youth using Anchoring Vignettes, Justin Gengler, Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, Qatar University
Beyond Mass Protests: Rethinking What Constitutes Arab Youth Political Activism, Sarah Anne Rennick, Sciences Po