» Archive for category: ‘youth


On Friday 15 January, 2016, Marina Korzenevica successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘Negotiating Life Chances: The lives of young people and socio-political change in rural eastern Nepal’.

Marina carried out her PhD at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at Copenhagen University under the supervision of Jytte Agergaard.

Marina’s PhD thesis consists of four stand-alone articles (some of them already accepted for publication) usefully complemented by an introduction, a detailed context chapter, a field work chapter, a conceptual and theoretical chapter as well as a conclusion and epilogue. The thesis has grown out of a DANIDA funded research project entitled ‘Nepal on the Move: Conflict, migration and stability‘ and it stands out as it succeeds in bridging various fields of studies, including: youth studies, migration studies, household studies and Nepal studies.

Drawing on detailed ethnographic research in two remote settings in rural eastern Nepal the thesis is centrally concerned with how, through mobility, young people are negotiating their individual life chances and contribute to socio-political change in the context of post-conflict Nepal. The distinct focus on rural communities is an important contribution as most work on youth is typically urban-centred. In terms of gender, the thesis concentrates on both female and male youth. And more importantly, it unravels how cross-border migration of young men affects the mobility of young women – especially in relation to marriage. Another interesting feature of the study is the conceptualisation of cross-border labour migration as a form of ‘education’. This leads her to argue that despite young women’s increased educational attainment (increasingly, young women remain in school for longer than young men), it is young men’s educational capital (acquired through migration) that continues to be valued higher in everyday life.

Marina’s thesis was examined by Torben Birch-Thomsen (University of Copenhagen), Susan Thieme (Free University Berlin) and Roy Huijsmans (ISS).


The 8th conference of the European Asociation for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) featured a panel dedicated to the question of what Southeast Asia has to contribute to the field of youth studies.

This ‘youth studies panel‘ was composed of the following six presentations:

  • Life is ART”: New Emerging Youth Networks in Hanoi
    Stephanie Geertman
    (Institut National De La Recherche Scientifique, Canada)
  • Youth, Phones and Companies: Insights from Southeast Asia
    Roy Huijsmans
    (Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands)
  • Parental Expectations and Young People’s Migratory Experiences in Indonesia
    Wenty Marina Minza
    (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia)
  • Making it in the City: Young Adults, Faith and Social Tolerance in a Middle-Class Housing Complex in Jakarta
    Suzanne Naafs
    (University of South Australia, Australia)
  • Saint, Celebrity, and the Self(ie): Body-Politics at Play in Late-Socialist Vietnam
    Tri Phuong (Yale University, USA)
  • Coming of Age in the Transitional Cohorts of Youth in Southeast Asia
    Peter Xenos (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)

A few important points transpired from these presentations, which speak in interesting ways to the panel’s starting question. First, possibly because the relative absence of a strong and coherent body of youth studies based on Southeast Asian research the presentations were remarkably diverse and refreshing. There was very little inward looking talk about youth studies. Instead, all presentations developed their youth studies perspective in relation to key debates in related fields such as media studies, urban studies, demography, planning, anthropology of the state. Second, a relational approach informed many of the presentations; emphasising the importance of understanding youth in relation to other age groupings, events, and wider forces. Third, in contrast to the pessimistic literature on for example youth un(der)employment, many of the presentations in this panel stressed the importance of fun and leisure in young people’s lives, including in relation to matters of (serious) political significance.

In addition, to this ‘youth studies panel’ various other youth related presentations were scattered across other panels (see for example HERE, HERE, and HERE). All this bodes very well for the future of youth studies in the Southeast Asian context.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



A new special issue of the journal Global Studies of Childhood on ‘Children and young people in times of conflict and change: Child rights in the Middle East and North Africa’ has just been released. The special issue, which is the culmination of a TEMPUS-funded project in which several European universities with programs in children’s rights – including ISS – collaborated with four universities in Jordan and Egypt to develop a diploma program in Public Policy and Child Rights. ISS faculty member Kristen Cheney was involved in the project, and she also served as co-editor of the special issue with Debbie Watson of Bristol University and Heba Raouf Ezzat of Cairo University.



The special issue includes an article by ISS alumna Hind Farahat and Cheney. Entitled “A facade of democracy: Negotiating the rights of orphans in Jordan”, the piece draws on data and findings from Farahat’s MA research to argue that Jordanian orphans’ direct action during the Arab Spring did not yield its expected results due to the persistently patriarchal social and legal constrictions of their citizenship in Jordan.

Farahat graduated from ISS with a degree in Social Policy for Development and a specialization in Children & Youth Studies in 2013. She currently works as a program development officer for TechTribes as well as director of child and youth programs for the Ecumenical Studies Center in Amman.

You can view the full table of contents for the special issue on the Global Studies of Childhood website.

Anthropology of Youth

Category: research| youth

10 Jun 2015


The online journal Open Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association offers a theme-issue on ‘Approaching Youth in Anthropology’.

All articles are entirely open access for a period of 6 months (starting as of June 9), and can be accessed HERE.

The issue features a total of 15 articles previously published in various AAA journals like the American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Ethos, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly, ranging from a book review by Robert H. Lowie of Margareth Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa published in 1929 to more recently published work like Craig Jeffrey’s Timepass (2010).

Altogether it is a great set of articles, and an excellent introduction to anthropological studies of youth.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


The University of Dundee is advertising a three year fully funded PhD position as part of a ESRC/DfID funded project on ‘Social cash transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories in rural Lesotho and Malawi.

The research project and the application process is described in more detail HERE. Within the overall project the PhD researcher is expected to work especially on the question of ‘how political and economic power relationships between national and international institutions are implicated in the design and implementation of SCT schemes’.


Have attempts to ‘save’ migrant working children in the name of anti-trafficking actually amounted to making young migrants more vulnerable?

Last month, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Migration Out of Poverty development research centre at the University of Sussex hosted a roundtable entitled ‘Labour Trafficking? Understanding the use of brokers in women’s and girl’s labour migration in the Global South’.

The event built on the Development Research Centre’s work on ‘child migration‘, and their current focus on ‘migration, women and girls‘.

Speakers at the event included Dr Priya Deshingkar, Mike Dottridge, Dr Ligia Kiss, and Jonathan Blagbrough. Collectively, these speakers brought lots of different experiences and knowledges to the floor about the field of trafficking and anti-trafficking, including important observations on the making of human trafficking as one of the worst crimes requiring immediate intervention, as well as reflections on common approaches that seek to address the issue of human trafficking.

Important questions that were discussed include:

-What would it mean to take a children’s rights approach to human trafficking?

-What interests is the anti-trafficking discourse serving if not those of the young migrants?

-What does a safe migration approach mean, especially in relation to young people?

-Does the regularisation of migration offer any benefits to poor and young migrants, or does it merely render them vulnerable to rent-seeking and corrupt officials?

-Are blanket approaches based on the measure of chronological age that render all those below 18 years of age children, and subject them to projects that seek to restore lost childhoods sensible?

A video recording of the event can be viewed HERE.

posted by Roy Huijsmans




The current issue (no. 120) of the online journal Inside Indonesia is themed ‘Youth employment prospects and aspirations’, guest-edited by Yatun Sastradmidjaja and Suzanne Naafs.

The editions brings together a number of international and Indonesian scholars. The contributions are short and highly accessible articles presenting cutting-edge research on a number of issues relating to youth, schooling, work and aspirations, which relevance goes well beyond the Indonesian context on which the articles are based. It includes contributions by two ISS alumni: Wenty Marina Minza (‘Aspiring to become a civil servant‘) and Suzanne Naafs (‘Negotiating access‘), and a co-authored article by ISS emeritus professor Ben White and Akatiga (‘Would I like to be a farmer?‘).

The guest editors decribe the issue as follows:

This edition of Inside Indonesia illustrates the various challenges that young people face in trying to match their dreams and skills with the work opportunities available to them in rural, metropolitan and industrial areas. This fills an important gap in our understanding of young people’s life worlds in Indonesia. While recent studies have documented the lifestyles of middle-class youth, questions about work and how young people pay for their lifestyle needs have been largely neglected. For many young people the meaning of work goes beyond consumption and lifestyle needs. They need an income to finance their education and plan for the future, attract a girl or boyfriend, fulfil their responsibilities to their families, contribute to their communities – and achieve personal goals for self-fulfilment and a meaningful life.



The University of Roehampton (London) advertises a number of fully funded PhD scholarships.

This includes a scholarship contributing to a project entitled ‘HyperConnecting Youth / HyperConnecting Schools: Virtual Pedagogy & Global Issues’.

The project is described as follows:

‘At a time of severe global crisis – and for the first time in human history – youth all over the world can access the required technology as to communicate personally with other young people and address common issues across diverse geographical areas. This studentship would contribute to a project developing innovative online/offline and participatory mixed-methods to document and analyse the modalities of young men and women’s hyper-communication about shared problems over longer periods of time across countries and contexts. The project aims to generate rich data resources (online/ offline observation/ interviews/ web-metrics), explore various cases and scenarios of hyper-communication with regard to various platforms, apps and social media and create a new pedagogical paradigm for understanding and supporting contemporary youth in dealing with urgent issues such as poverty, economic crisis, unemployment or climate change on global level.’

IMG_3816 - Version 2Guest post by Tamara Megaw, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course and a Social Policy for Development major, responding to a visit to Porta Futuro employment project as part of the recent study trip to Rome, Italy 

On 13 February 2015, ISS Social Policy for Development students attended a panel discussion with the local government of Lazio at Porta Futuro. Porta Futuro is an employment centre offering career counseling and vocational training to young job seekers and labour recruitment services to employers. This centre boasts a new model of client-driven service provision with the goal that “every person can thrive based on their merit” (Porta Futuro, 2015). They claimed that surveying clients, designing key performance indicators to measure improvement, professionalising services and building public-private partnerships helped them deliver services with maximum value-add for clients. This new management approach may have been adopted for pragmatic reasons in a climate of austerity where public services are being pruned back. However it can be criticised for not addressing the causes of youth unemployment related to the economic and political structures (White, 2012, p.11).

The local government of Lazio also discussed the ‘Garanzia Giovani’ (Youth Guarantee) European plan to support active policies of orientation, education, training and job placement for young people who are categorised ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET). The government guarantees Italian young people between 15 and 29 years valid work, further education, apprenticeship or internship within four months after becoming unemployed or exiting from the formal education system (Garanzia Giovani, 2015).

Conventional Italian policies to address unemployment issues were investing more money in the economy to boost employment and passive social policies such as redundancies. The economist on the panel challenged the assumption that people will find jobs once the economy has recovered, arguing that we are facing a long recession and new type of persistent labour insecurity. The 150 billion euros needed for the type of counter-cyclical push required to ‘fix’ the economy is not available from the EU, so the Youth Guarantee is proposed as an alternative solution (Porta Futuro, 2015).

There are 400,000 NEET registered just in the Lazio region and the weakness of the policy is that the number of salaried positions is far from capable of meeting the labour supply. The ILO Report on the Youth Employment Crisis indicates deterioration in the time it takes to obtain a first job, duration of transition to a “standard” job after school or their first job and proportion of young NEET to adult unemployment rate (2012, p.17). The Youth Guarantee’s inadequate response to these problems is to provide training for young people in marketable skills while waiting for a job. This may contribute to the phenomena of “educated unemployment” (Jeffrey, 2009) that marginalises youth. The plan also promotes entrepreneurship through training young people in how to develop their own business projects. This shifts emphasis away from genuine employment generation to forcing young people “to improvise their own survival strategies” (White, 2012, p.11).

The financial crisis from 2007 in Europe has disproportionately affected young people. For example, older generations caused the Greek debt problem but the younger generation must take responsibility for repayment, while being excluded from the type of social security older people enjoyed. This generational imbalance discussed by the panel resonates as a familiar narrative in many countries with a declining welfare state. As stated by ILO “what is needed is a policy framework in which the extension of social protection reduces vulnerabilities and inequalities and improves productivity” (2012, p.28). Youth unemployment will become a growing trend if no policy measures are taken.


Garanzia Giovani (2015), ‘Un impresa per il tuo futuro’, Accessed 11 March 2015, http://www.garanziagiovani.gov.it/.

International Labour Office (ILO) (2012), The Youth Unemployment Crisis: Time for Action, International Labour Office, Geneva, Accessed 5 March 2015, http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/reports/reports-submitted/WCMS_175421/lang–en/index.htm.

Jeffrey, Craig (2009), ‘Fixing Futures: Educated Unemployment through a North Indian Lens’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 51:1, pp. 182–211.

Porta Futuro Panel Discussion with the local government of Lazio on ‘Garanzia Giovani’, 13 February 2015, Rome.

White, Ben (2012), ‘Agriculture and the Generation Problem: Rural Youth, Employment and the Future of Farming’, IDS Bulletin, 43:6, Oxford.


Guest post by Mahardhika S. Sadjad, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course984074_10152761489194989_7116096001312945834_n

On 17 February 2015, three young British girls were caught on CCTV boarding a plane to Istanbul on their way to Syria to become ISIS brides. Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, are all UK citizens – two of which were born and raised in the UK.

The girls’ seemingly voluntary departure to join ISIS triggered public outcry. While recruitment of young European men into ISIS was increasingly being covered by the media, until then, little attention was given towards the role of young women in ISIS. How could three young, bright girls with a Western education and upbringing even contemplate joining an Islamist group known to oppress and harm women? The media could not figure out whether to paint them as terrorists or victims, oppressed girls or women with agency; brainwashed young Muslims or bright, educated criminal masterminds.

Photo_The Guardian

Photo from The Guardian newspaper

Quoted in the Telegraph.co.uk, Scotland Yard stated that the search for these teenagers was not about ‘criminalising people, it is about preventing tragedies by offering support to the young and vulnerable’ (Evans, 2015). Nosheen Iqbal (2015) expressed a similar opinion in response to headlines that condemned the young women: ‘Being sharp and clever in class doesn’t make them any less impressionable as children… At their age, extremism and nihilism can easily take root, because real life hasn’t really happened to them yet’. These views echo the paradoxical views that society associate with youth, as ‘… terrors of the present, the errors of the past, the prospect of a future… they are figures of a popular imagination far removed from more nuanced social realities’ (Comaroff and Comaroff 2005, 20). Glaringly absent from the discussion were the voices of young people and their views of the subject.

The debate between demonizing and victimizing the young women does little to shed light on the role of ethnicity, gender, age, and social structure that influenced their decisions. Bayat and Herrera (2010, 5) point out that according to Gallup World Poll there isn’t a difference of unemployment rates and education levels between the politically radical and moderate. What sets Muslim youth apart – especially after the tragedies of 11 September 2001 – is a generational consciousness as young Muslims who thrive to construct their identities and individuality within a society that constantly scrutinizes who they are based on what they believe in or who they associate with (Ibid. 10-11). In a social reality where Islam is portrayed as the anti-thesis of ‘the West’, Muslim youth find sources of resistance through everyday religious practices to challenge Western norms where youth are expected to celebrate liberty (Amir-Moazami 2010, 192-193). These expressions differ widely among Muslim youth and must also be understood as a gendered process. One might argue that the most extreme form of these expressions are displayed by the likes of Begum, Sultana, and Abase, who left UK to become ISIS brides.

This blog post is not meant to support ISIS in any way or justify the actions of young people who join ISIS. Instead, I am arguing for the need to go beyond the dichotomized discourse that pushes young people to make ‘either/or’ decisions in constructing their identities, causing them to become more vulnerable to extremism. This binary only works in support of ISIS’ propaganda pitting Islamic fundamentalism against ‘Western imperialism’; attracting Muslim youth in western societies who often feel the injustices faced by minority groups but are too marginalized from meaningful forms of expression. Trying to understand why young people would opt to live in a world of violence and oppression requires us to better understand their views about the realities that they leave behind when they board a plane, departing from Europe.

Reference List

Amir-Moazami, S. (2010), ‘Avoiding “Youthfulness?”: Young Muslims Negotiating Gender and Citizenship in France and Germany, in A. Bayat and L.A. Herrera (eds.) Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. Oxford [etc.]: Oxford University Press.

Bayat, A. and L. Herrera (2010) ‘Introduction: Being Young and Muslim in Neoliberal Times’ in A. Bayat and L. Herrera (eds.) Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. Oxford [etc.]: Oxford University Press.

Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff (2005), ‘Reflections on Youth: From the Past to the Postcolony’ in A. Honwana and F. De Boeck (eds.) Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, p. 19-30.

Evands, M., 20.02.2015 –last update, “Three missing London schoolgirls ‘travelling to Syria to join Isil’ [Online]. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11424884/Three-missing-British-schoolgirls-travel-to-Syria.html Accessed: 15.03.2015]

Iqbal, N., 24.02.2015 – last update, ‘The Syria-bound schoolgirls aren’t jihadi devil-women, they’re vulnerable children’ [Online] Available: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/24/syria-bound-schoolgirls-arent-jihadi-devil-women-theyre-vulnerable-children?CMP=fb_gu Accessed: 15.03.2015]

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