Seminar: Youth in “Waithood”: Transitions and Social Change


Video duration: 
1 h 23 min.

Alcinda HonwanaThis seminar examines the lives of young people struggling with unemployment and sustainable livelihoods in the context of widespread social and economic crisis. Failed neo-liberal economic policies, bad governance and political instability have caused stable jobs to disappear but without jobs, young people cannot support themselves and their families. Most young Africans are living in ‘waithood’, a period of suspension between childhood and adulthood. This state of limbo is becoming pervasive and is gradually replacing conventional adulthood. While focusing on African case studies, the seminar argues that youth in Europe, North America and other parts of the world are facing the same crisis of joblessness and restricted futures. This youth crisis is thus global. The ‘waithood generation’ possesses a tremendous transformative potential, as young people understand that the struggle to attain freedom from want requires radical social and political change. From riots and protests on the streets of Maputo, Dakar, Madrid, London, New York and Santiago to revolutions that have overthrown dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the ‘waithood generation’ appears to be conquering freedom from fear and fighting for their rights.

Alcinda Honwana is currently a visiting professor at the Open University (OU) in the UK and was professor and chair in International Development and directed the International Development Centre (IDC) at the OU between 2005 and 2010. Before this, she worked for the Social Science Research Council in New York where she directed the Children and Armed Conflict Program and the Africa Program. She has also lectured in Anthropology in Maputo, Cape Town and New York, and has been a visiting professor of Anthropology at Columbia University and at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Honwana also worked for the United Nations as research coordinator in the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. She has written extensively on the links between political conflict and culture and the impact of violent conflict on young people, conducting research in Mozambique, DRC, Angola, Colombia and Sri Lanka. She has also researched the condition of youth in Africa today and their role in processes of social change by looking at cases studies in Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

Date, time and location

29 November 2012
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A42 (5th floor)