ESR Project 5

Youth and Political Security: Social Unrest and (In)action in Urban Namibia

Supervisors Steven Van Wolputte (University of Leuven) and Morten Nielsen (Aarhus University)

In Namibia, more than forty 40 per cent of the “born-free generation” is unemployed, this despite their formal education. The tension this generates surfaces, for instance, in the fact that this generation has to compete with the national and an increasingly international elite for scarce and expensive urban plots.

This PhD project asks what shape a ‘politics of the young’ takes on in a contemporary, African, urban context. How is ‘political action’ – including the youth’s “pavement politics” – translated, and how do Namibian youths deal with the existing inequalities in the country? And what effect does living in the city have on existing patterns of solidarity (such as family, friendship, and the like), especially in view of the Namibian government’s ambition to build an industrialized country by the year 2030.

The project will draw on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Namibia, including a three month secondment at the Legal Assistance Centre, a public interest law firm in Windhoek.