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Title: Youth networks and violence in the Niger Delta
Author: Iwilade, Akin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 0305
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This study provides an alternative explanation for the nature of politics in the Niger Delta by focussing on the forms and contents of relationships within youth networks. While not repudiating previous narratives around historical and contemporary grievances, the study argues that a lot can be learnt from interrogating how social codes like respectability and self organizational tactics like provisionality, shape, not just the nature of youth politics, but also the ways in which youth imagine themselves and their place in fluid and extractive contexts like the Niger Delta. The implication of focussing on issues such as these, the study argues, is that it becomes possible to tease out the critical, yet often ignored, micro-politics of social categories which ultimately frame the way actors articulate their macro level grievances and aspirations. This study is driven by three main research questions. First, what pathways facilitate youth engagement with politics in the Niger Delta? Second, how do Niger Delta youth imagine and organize themselves as actors navigating its dynamic oil political economy? And finally, how has the Amnesty which was declared in 2009 for youth insurgents changed the nature of relationships within youth networks and how has it impacted on their roles as actors in the Niger Delta? As a way of engaging with these questions, the study used the 2009 Amnesty as a historical marker to periodize state interventions in the region and also to illustrate the impact and limits that formal interventions have when seeking to shape the politics of social shifters like youth. The study's main contributions include a rethinking of the notion of youth which asks for a conscious analytical disaggregation of politically active youth from the general pool of the young. This implies that the idea of youth is dependent on acts of doing rather than of being. The study also challenged the idea that youth is marginal and argues that even the fact of marginality can be a useful resource for navigating uncertain social contexts like the Niger Delta. Through its engagement with the changing notion of respectability as well as the innovative deployment of provisionality as an organizing strategy by youth, the study provides new ways of analyzing the Niger Delta that can move it away from a fixation on rational choice narratives of scarcity, greed or grievance. Finally, the study provides the first comprehensive mapping of youth networks in the Niger Delta and does so across three pathways, showing how these complex relationships shape and are also shaped by the broader political economy of oil. The study concludes by arguing for new questions to be asked about how the shifting forms and geographies of the Niger Delta's youth networks flow out to other areas of national and transnational life in ways that recognize the regions fluidity, uncertainty and permanence.
Supervisor: Mustapha, Abdul Raufu Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Politics ; Development Studies ; Niger Delta ; Oil Politics ; Youth Networks ; Youth ; Respectability ; Networks of Contingency