Catherine BoltenCatherine Bolten

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Peace Studies
Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
University of Notre Dame

"The System Is Not Fragile: Youth and Social Politics in Urban Sierra Leone"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
12:30pm - C103 Hesburgh Center

Youth in Makeni, the capital of the northern province of Sierra Leone, often use the example of the proliferation of political parties as an example of the fact that "the system is not fragile," in that the country's democracy is durable enough to handle political competition.

In this talk, I use the case study of an upstart political party, the United Democratic Front, to illustrate how the political system is a metonym for a social system where individuals use the threat of breaking away from their social world as a way of leveraging improved status for themselves. Youth are often unwitting pawns to the power struggles of their elders, operating under the illusion that they are working for real change when in fact they are merely enhancing the mobility of others.