Abidjan

by Administrator, August 21, 2014

A research partnership with the Department of Regional and Urban Sociology Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, The Rujak Centre for Urban Studies (Jakarta), the Hyderabad Urban Lab (Hyderabad, India), and the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Abidjan).

The project conducts systematic in-depth interviews of a cross-section of youth of various religious backgrounds in cities of intensely heterogeneous populations. It focuses on ways residents learn how to operate as collective relationships in the city. How relationships among residents, materials, techniques, and spaces make up specific modalities of urban existence; how residents live through these relationships as a means of assembling livelihood; how they figure relationships as a means of producing information-rich environments and instruments of experimentation.

Life in the city has become fundamentally uncertain especially for young people, who are the ongoing future residents of our cities. From Jakarta to Berlin, from Hyderabad to Abidjan and Sao Paulo, young people must design their life projects under the influence of economic crisis and restructuring and cannot assume that they will escape their parents’ poverty, retain their parents’ wealth, or will be able to reproduce their parents’ cultural capital. The project studies the ways in which youth in both the Global South and Global North create pathways to their futures, both as conscious attempts to get somewhere as well as by grabbing opportunities as they present themselves. They have to learn how to use the city, how to take risks and invest in it; and they must have some faith in the city and believe that they can do something with it. A key component of this process of learning involves faith-based institutions. They provide moral orientations, organize interactions and provide stages for voicing, e.g. for practices to make oneself heard, especially collectively.

How do young people envision the future of their city? Where do they define their own role as agents to make that city and how do they engage in some sort of collective urban action? The future might be anticipated and worked toward, or else it could be the thing that happens to begin after each present moment. Still, we aim to discuss how young people measure their involvement in terms of bigger urban goals, moving from their practices of just the city to a faith in a just city. Faith is what both the city and religion can’t do without; both urban and religious faith then come with a set of practices that transcend individual immediate interest.