Roundtable Call for Proposals
The State and Future of Childhood’s and Youth Studies in the MENA Region
Fifth World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies
16-22 July 2018
Middle East Studies has many well-established and interdisciplinary subfields, such as Women’s Studies, Turkish Studies, and Iranian Studies. Childhood’s and Youth Studies is a relatively new approach to understanding the region. With nearly half of the population in Middle Eastern and North African countries falling into the category of children and youth, forming the “youth bulge” phenomenon, the development of research in the field of childhood and youth is imperative for young people themselves, as well as understanding critical regional and global phenomena, such as political activism, demographic transitions, political socialization, youth violence, migration, humanitarian practices. Childhood’s and Youth Studies combines the social sciences, humanities, communication studies, education studies, and other related academic areas to understand the individual and collective experiences, and actions of children and youth in historical and present contexts. The growing interest in Childhood’s and Youth Studies among Middle East scholars comes as an outgrowth of the increasingly number of anthropologists, historians, sociologists, economists, political scientists, etc. who focus on children and youth in this geographical region.
In addition to taking stock of Childhood’s and Youth Studies academic work completed and in progress in the MENA region, this roundtable has three interrelated objectives: 1) identify current questions pertinent to the field; 2) articulate challenges to forging the field; 3) and define future avenues. These three objectives will pivot around a few major themes. First, we will address the issue of stereotypical approaches to children and youth in the Middle East, North Africa, and diasporic communities. Second, we will explore the unique aspects of the experience of being a young person in the region. Third, we will address the issue of marginalization of Middle Eastern and North African children and youth in academia.
A few questions that will help us flesh out these themes are: What role has conflict and inequality played in affecting the lives and choices of children and youth in the MENA region? What does the Arab Spring reveal about age and agency? What hinders more scholars of the Middle East and North Africa from making children and/or youth their primary specialization? What sources are helpful in studying children and youth? What can an interdisciplinary approach to children and youth add to our understanding of this social group? This Roundtable will help forge the field of Childhood’s and Youth Studies in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Accepted languages are English and French (WOCMES working languages).