Young People’s Aspirations, Prefigurative Politics, and the Search for Alternative Futures in the Global South
Currently, we are witnessing disillusionment with development and its constitutive elements - such as modernization, democratization, and participation. Much of this is linked to a deep sense of frustration related to struggles in securing livelihoods, improving precarious working conditions, improving public services, or changing of gender orders in the Global South. Additionally, in light of the political swing to the right in Europe and the US, the grand formulas of the development narrative do not offer the same hope or venues in which to imagine a decent and safe future.
By engaging in prefigurative politics, young people do not only express dissent but develop a “capacity to aspire”, through embodying forms of social relations, decision-making, and specific (sub-)cultural systems of representation. With their aim being to model imagined futures, prefigurative politics serve to provide the means to articulate aspirations in the present, and envision and experiment with alternative life-designs, gender order, and citizenships – albeit on a temporary and often highly volatile basis.
This session seeks to make inquiries into this new development by using theoretically and empirically grounded insights into projects and experiences with prefigurative politics in different parts of the Global South, and to analyze the negotiations within such initiatives, which are geared towards producing alternative narratives of a “decent life”. Our aim is to investigate the tensions which emerge from the lived experience of individuals, who seek to escape the insecurity and complexity of the contemporary global economy through a utopian vision of a different society.
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