The Android generation: youth imagination and precarity in Cameroon
Divine Fuh, Lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town, will deliver the lecture “The Android generation: youth imagination and precarity in Cameroon”.
The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom. We will go for dinner, or just drinks, at Lorry Restaurant, Parkveien 12, at 18:00. Everybody is welcome to join at their own expense.
In this paper, I use the notion of "android” to explore the ways in which young people in a specific location in Cameroon take advantage of the resources available to them to imagine and build stable futures for both themselves and their communities. I take my cue from the flexibility and myriad opportunities offered by the Android operating system to try to understand how youth in African cities cope with the many challenges that the weakness of the state, the economy and the many aspects of the on-going processes of globalisation provokes. My interest lies in the ways in which young people in Old Town, an underprivileged neighbourhood in Bamenda, Cameroon take advantage of the resources available to them within a youth group to make a difference (or not) for themselves and their community. My research builds upon an emerging body of literature, which approaches youth as civic agents actively involved in imagining and creating alternative possibilities for themselves and their community. Among the members of the Ntambag Brothers association, success is not only accomplished through the acquisition and accumulation of material wealth, but most importantly through the ability to demonstrate imagination and inventiveness – a capacity to dream. This paper therefore explores how urban youth develop new modes of agency that allows them to maintain an active attitude despite the permanent difficulties of finding a place in a society that apparently does not have one for them.
Divine Fuh joined the University of Cape Town in 2012 from the University of Basel in Switzerland where he was a senior researcher/lecturer in the Chair for Research and Methodology, Institute for Sociology. Fuh coordinates the Research Group “Fixing the City”, with research interests in youth, aspirations, precarity, agency, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, popular culture and sustainability. His research examines the ways in which people seek ways of ‘smiling’ in the midst of ‘suffering’ with specific interests in cities, precarity/uncertainty, agency and the quest for stability and human dignity – critically examining aspirations, hope, happiness and becoming. His current publications on youth and upcoming books engage with the basic question of how youth in African cities cope with the many challenges that the weakness of the state, the economy and the many aspects of the on-going processes of globalisation provokes. It explores how urban youth develop new modes of agency that allows them to maintain an active attitude despite the permanent difficulties of finding a place in a society that apparently does not have one for them. He holds a B.Sc. (Honours) in Journalism & Mass Communication, and Political Science from the University of Buea in Cameroon, MA in Development Studies from the University of Botswana, and a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Basel in Switzerland. He has taught at the Universities of Basel in Switzerland, Western Cape and Stellenbosch in South Africa, Brasilia in Brazil, and the University of Tokyo in Japan. He has been a visiting fellow at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin, Germany, and the African Studies Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands. He is member of the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town.