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Youth Citizenship in Divided Societies

Mapping the spaces of citizenship and belonging

With the YouCitizen research project, we are engaged in examining how young people experience citizenship within the context of conflict. In post-conflict settings, histories of violence and division reverberate through communities, families, and the everyday spaces of young people such as homes and schools. Collective memories of past events are embedded in the urban landscape and work to shape young peoples' feelings of belonging. Post-conflict youth development projects (and indeed a great deal of research about youth) tend to focus on how young people are authors of their own future. While celebrating this, it's also important to understand how young peoples' lives are shaped - if not determined - by the past. At the same time, young people actively make sense of, engage with, critique and seek to change their circumstances in the present. Capturing how this complex temporality is embedded in the everyday lives and spaces of young people, however, is a real methodological challenge.

Belonging and Deserving

In the aftermath of the British general election two key debates have emerged, firstly why the pollsters got the result so drastically wrong in the weeks leading up to election day and, secondly, what this result will mean for the future landscape of British politics? Looking behind these debates and focussing instead on the policies, rhetoric and idea(l)s expressed by political parties during the campaign period we can see how notions of citizenship, nationalism and belonging were core to many of the core campaign messages. This includes one-nation-ism and (the threat of?) Scottish nationalism, the discourse of 'shirkers v strivers' in debates about welfare and austerity, and the apparent cross-party consensus on the need to reduce immigration and exclude 'non-deserving' migrants, with some even questioning the legitimacy and 'Britishness' of political candidates born of immigrant parents.

Horsh Beirut and the Dalieh Campaign:

Campaigns to re-define rights and re-claim breathing space

For years now, activists and NGOs have campaigned for the re-opening of the Horsh al-Sanawbar, Beirut’s Pine Forest and the largest green space. The Horsh--at the centre of this sprawling city, but at the margins of people’s geographies--has been raised as a central issue by activists, many of them youth, campaigning for greater access to public space. The Municipality’s decision to keep it closed since its restoration in 1995 (except to foreigners and permit holders) was exposed for its absurdity, but also for its complexity. Indeed, this is not only a precious bit of green, it is also a space that lies along the old demarcation line and illustrates an ambiguous relationship to public space overshadowed by security concerns. However, since 2010, the campaign for the re-opening of the Horsh has gained more publicity and--in the context of dwindling empty lots, rising density, congestion and the spectre of further restriction of public access to open spaces (Dalieh and Ramlet el Baida)--the Horsh has become part of a larger set of concerns carried by a coalition of NGOs. “Public space is now in the public eye,” said the member of a youth-led NGO advocating for the re-opening of the Horsh. “Before it was the environment or heritage but now it is public space”.

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Durham University, Department of Geography
Lower Mountjoy, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
YouCitizen Via @NPR: Decrying Hair Rule, South African Students Demand To Be 'Naturally Who We Are' https://t.co/jXr1wttiXU

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