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"Youth facing change; state policies and modernity in Central Asia and in the Arab world"

Organized by Sophie Roche (ZMO) and Daniele Cantini (SCM, Halle)

In this panel, we seek to explore different ways in which state policies, influenced by different paradigms of modernity and modernisation, affects the ways in which youth live, represents itself, and is represented. The interest in youth stems firstly from its demographic impact – in most Arab societies youth represents almost two thirds of the population – and from its relevance for discussions on the globalisation processes, on state policies in countries that are usually authoritarian, and on youth´s cultural practices and religious beliefs, relevant both on a local and on a regional level. We suggest looking at state policies, especially over the past two decades and the role of international agencies in shaping state policies because we believe that these are of great importance, and yet the impact these policies have is to be analysed in the different social and economic contexts.
We are particularly interested in the role of education – religious, private, higher education – for we assume that this sector is among the most relevant for youth, in countries in which the value of al-tarbawiyya/tarbya is rather crucial, for social consideration and mobility, and for it is a field in which the intertwining of state policies, Euro-American educational standards as they are pushed forward by international agencies, and the social context is particularly interesting. At the same time, we would welcome papers that address other fields that can highlight ways in which youth practices and ambitions, state policies and modernity are at play. We particularly welcome papers that are grounded in a solid ethnographic field and that can be used in a comparative perspective, for we believe that an ethnographic understanding is necessary in order to make sense of how concepts like Islam, state policies, modernity, and secularism are conceived and become embedded in local practices and discourses.

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