Call for articles: BUWA! Journal on African Women’s Experiences #8

Saturday, July 15th. 2017
Theme: Youth in Africa: Exploring Counter (New) Narratives and Creative Spaces 
There seems to be a late resurgence of a global drive towards acknowledging and mobilizing youth agency, although the driving motives seem to be markedly changed. Looking back at the era of the liberation struggles across the continent, there was a clear strategy to enlist youth as agents in liberation movements. In most cases youth agency was regarded as a strategic add-on to the mainstream: often generating the much needed sustained energy, zeal and sometimes impressionable numbers to swell the voices in the movements across the board. 
With independence and democratisation projects across the continent, youth often became more of subjects of development rather than agents of change in such processes. Often development policy spaces, processes and frameworks tended to close the space for youth (and other similar marginalized social groups); only co-opted at convenient moments and events where their agency was considered a dividend in pushing specific government or other interest groups’ agendas; notably during election campaigns, in so-called nation-building projects (egs youth militia, youth brigades, etc has been a model used in many countries in the course of history.) 
The dominant narratives around youth have thus tended to portray youth as victims, vulnerable, venerable, impressionable, restless, angry, troubled, and sometimes violent. That seems to be changing, with new and multiple narratives emerging, and this is because of a number of reasons. 
This Issue of BUWA focuses on the various sites where new narratives around youth are emerging strongly; exploring how these are challenging the old dominant narratives, and also carving space for creative solutions to Africa’s current and envisaged challenges. The Issue interrogates a number of sites where youth engagement and or participation is overtly and or otherwise contested. These sites include, but are not limited to the arts, culture, media, religion, public spaces, academia, sport, politics, economics, as well as in spaces for activism and movements – among others that have a bearing on achieving open society ideals. Of particular interest in this Issue is a feminist lens on the concept of youth and how young women and young men on the continent are either active agents in shaping these new narratives or otherwise. The Issue provides development practitioners and policy makers with gender responsive current thinking and opportunities to tap into the momentum that seems to be increasingly gaining steam – ‘harnessing the demographic dividend’ towards 2063 on the continent. 
Story board 
Theoretical and Policy framing 
  1. Interrogating the concept of youth (ie genesis and characterisation of youth in stories then and now) (Historical analysis and contemporary analysis) 
  1. Ageism and the value of young women’s self-actualization (challenging dominant ways of seeing, hearing and engaging youth generally and young women (in particular) on the continent (countering the story-telling and various channels/sites/spaces opening up and or closing in this regard); youth and marginality) 
  2. The generational contract: an appreciation of the responsibility of youth vis a vis older generations and vice versa. What are the key shifts in how this ‘contract’ is playing out and how this is being shaped by and also shaping narratives on youth on the continent? 
  3. The politics of space and voice ( to explore young women’s relationship with space and voice and how this feeds/challenges dominant stories about their lives; challenging masculinities in youth narratives) and roles in communities/young women space in youth movements and youth networks: theory and practice) 
  4. Tracking the history: historical overview of dominant youth discourses (ie from naïve impressionable, violent and needing capacity building from knowing adults to able agents of change); how is the continent telling the story of youth? 
  5. Reconceptualising inequality: how young women are leading in reconceptualising the various forms of inequalities that have been naturalized on the continent (eg child mothers/transactional sexual relationships, interrogating the perception that young girls are getting pregnant to access social grants in SA, and challenging this dominant story of young women as prone to this) 
  6. Gender responsive youth development policies, programmes and models (ie case studies of progressive youth friendly budgets, policies and programmes) 


Key Contested sites of youth engagement 
  1. Arts: Young women in arts
    1. Under-recognized and unrecognized contribution of young women in various artistic genres 
    2. Experiences of young women in various artistic genres (egs theatre, blogs, music, visual arts (fashion, photography identity, self-expression ‘picturing our own lives’ (young women and photography/film etc); monologues, poetry etc all shattering the silence of dominant narratives and developing a new economy. 
    3. How young women use (and are used) by cultural and artistic industries on the continent 
  2. Culture
    1. young women challenging and resisting dominant cultural narratives (eg challenging norms and expectations declaring themselves to be/ to have different sexual orientation, demanding to have conversations about sex, resisting oppression, reproductive choices… (Are people still resisting? It appears through the social media, a significant section of youths are daily expressing themselves and what they represent through photography, videos, voice on platforms like WhatsApp, twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc). Everyone is now a story maker and the narrative of the dominant culture is in fact getting shaped by these largely urban story makers…artists to be specific. 
    2. How are identities formed and politicised – strong youth activists and how they carry that identity beyond their youth years; what currency is lost and or gained by shedding/retaining this identity? 
    3. Changing political symbols of young women’s struggles in their strategies to resist oppression (eg how young women are recreating new symbols and reshaping perceptions of beauty, dress code, hairstyles etc) 
    4. d. self-representation and young women’s ways of constructing meaning in their world today (natural hair, dressing afro-centric, beads, definition of beauty, and image) 
  3. Religion
    1. Young women making meaning of their lives in a context of escalating religious fundamentalisms; 
    2. Religious education as a predictor of conformity among youth: analysis and case studies on the continent 
  4. Academia/Education
    1. Challenging dominant ways of creating and consuming knowledge (Young women’s voices/contributions in the academia as lecturers, tutors, writers and knowledge producers) 
    2. Schools as sites shaping dominant narratives (youth education; shaping youth perspectives and the changing terrain in the form and shape of youth education) 
    3. Body politics (Sexual harassment on university campuses) some case studies 
  5. Media and technology
    1. Dominant narratives of youth and young women in and through the media (how youth are constructing contemporary narratives through performance, theatre, arts etc 
    2. Social media and Internet (enablers for disruptive youth strategies) 
  6. Youth as national and global citizens
    1. How youth engage with the state – to what extent are youth accorded space and scope in law and in practice to contribute as citizens (case studies) 
    2. Youth and young women in politics: realities and perceptions (analytical piece and case studies) 
    3. The role of young women in Youth Leagues and (a historical analysis of specific cases) 
    4. Youth (and young women’s) movements and strategies of mobilising and organising: new brooms in old hands? How are young women mobilising to resist injustice (strategies that are working/not working 
    5. New youth communities of practice and impacts on movement-building processes and impacts 
    6. Challenging intra-marginality in youth spaces: tackling inter-sectionalities in youth politics and exploring space and voice for special interest youth movements (eg indigenous young women’s, young women with disabilities and LGBTI and trans youth etc ) 
  7. Do it yourself: creating the new economy
    1. Interrogating the current drive towards entrepreneurship as a model for economic advancement (a feminist analysis) 
    2. Young women’s narratives of their place in global and national economies (what story is not being told?) 
    3. The worth of innovation hubs 
  8. Public spaces and social movements
    1. Interrogating public spaces created by others for youth and young women (and how genuinely these depart (if at all) from the dominant perspectives of youth and young women (eg UN Youth Assembly, Africa Union Youth Platform, SADC Youth Forum; 
    2. Analysis of national youth platforms (case studies) and how ‘progressive they are in incubating new ideas and new narratives for addressing today’s challenges: from structured NGO’s to formless cyber-movements 
    3. Urban /rural youth narratives (is there a difference in how rural young women and urban young women access and use public spaces and to tell what stories?) 
    4. Disruption and non-conformity: how youth are carving space for themselves and using their voice in public discourses and processes. (Case studies and analysis) 
BUWA! Women’s Economic Justice: Putting women at the centre’s-economic-justice-putting-women-centre
BUWA! Feminism and Culture
BUWA! Sex and Health
BUWA! Rethinking approaches, reconsidering strategies
Calling writers and researchers to submit referenced analytical articles of 3000 words. Opinion pieces, ‘I’ stories; cartoons; photo-essays; and more…. Contact for Full TORs. 



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