Youth Contesting Legitimacy from Below in Sub-Sahara Africa

The Sahel has gained attention in international politics as one of the central theatres in the war on terrorism. International actors in this war seek alliances with states in the region, reinforcing the latter’s military strength and their legitimacy from outside. At the same time, increasingly-connected young populations question the legitimacy of their states, and contest that legitimacy from within and below.

In the absence of states delivering any reasonable form of social contract, young people become torn between different governing orders and find themselves in a liminal space. In this article we present the cases of youth in Mali and Chad, who find themselves in a period of re-definition of their position in society and hence search for legitimate structures representation. In this search they may frame their belonging in terms of ethnicity, religion or political opposition – and increasingly also in adherence to global citizenship. New information flows and connectivity among young people in these regions, and between them and the diaspora, has given a new turn to their search for citizenship/belonging and rightful representation. However, whether their search will be successful in this geopolitical context is questionable.

Full titleYouth Between State and Rebel (Dis)Orders: Contesting Legitimacy from Below in Sub-Sahara Africa
PublisherSmall Wars & Insurgencies, 28:4-5, 779-798
Media typeArticle
Topics Military Missions, Struggles and Uprisings
Regions Sahara and Sahel

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