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Morality at the MarginsYouth, Language, and Islam in Coastal Kenya$
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Sarah Hillewaert

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286515

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286515.001.0001

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“Youth” as a Discursive Construct

“Youth” as a Discursive Construct

(p.121) Chapter 3 “Youth” as a Discursive Construct
Morality at the Margins

Sarah Hillewaert

Fordham University Press

This chapter picks up the discourses on change introduced in the foregoing chapter, but zooms in on the discursive construction of “youth” as a recently emerging category of social identification. Through the analysis of Lamu residents’ discourses on change, we see the social category of youth materialize as either enslaved to their longing for Western modernity (with explicit comparisons of youth to slaves) or as the “dot com” generation that has access to a range possibilities previously unreachable for their parents. The analysis of these discourses also demonstrates how differently positioned social actors read and evaluate verbal and non-verbal practices and link them to newly emerging social categories. Such reading of material signs and their explicit incorporation in evaluations of youth already hints at how young people are able to strategically use details of dress, smell, gaze, or stride in the presentation of self.

Keywords:   personhood, subjectivity, social change, youth

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