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Domesticating Youth

Domesticating Youth: Youth Bulges and their Socio-political Implications in Tajikistan

Sophie Roche
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Domesticating Youth
    Book Description:

    Most of the Muslim societies of the world have entered a demographic transition from high to low fertility, and this process is accompanied by an increase in youth vis-a-vis other age groups. Political scientists and historians have debated whether such a "youth bulge" increases the potential for conflict or whether it represents a chance to accumulate wealth and push forward social and technological developments. This book introduces the discussion about youth bulge into social anthropology using Tajikistan, a post-Soviet country that experienced civil war in the 1990s, which is in the middle of such a demographic transition. Sophie Roche develops a social anthropological approach to analyze demographic and political dynamics, and suggests a new way of thinking about social change in youth bulge societies.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-263-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Foreword The Construction of Life Phases and Some Facts of Life
    (pp. ix-xvii)
    Günther Schlee

    In all sorts of statistics, including demographic ones, social constructs and ‘givens’ that resist being constructed and deconstructed interpenetrate. Hardcore constructivists would always claim that statistics do not reflect numbers but create them. In fact both processes are at work. Statistics make us observe things we would not otherwise have observed – or, at least, we would not have counted and calculated them as averages, such as pets per household or per capita beer consumption. But statistical calculations of such frequencies for these units might appear artificial to many. When it comes to pets, we normally do not add canaries to...

  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xviii-xix)
  6. Notes on Transliteration and Usage
    (pp. xx-xx)
  7. Introduction: Youth (Bulges) and Conflict
    (pp. 1-36)

    On 8 April 2011 I received a call from Dushanbe. A young colleague excitedly told me that he was on the way to a demonstration in front of Barki Tojik, headquarters of the state energy supplier, to protest at its inability to provide a reliable service. He intended to watch from afar at first, and only join in after gauging the state’s reaction. The flash mob that eventually took place, involving about thirty young people from Dushanbe, lasted no more than twenty minutes and my colleague had no time to join in. The participants carried posters with words of mourning...

  8. Chapter 1 Placing the Field Sites in Their Context: A Demographic History
    (pp. 37-65)

    This chapter discusses the demographic context of the field sites researched in this study. After a brief introduction to the four research locations, I will provide an overview of their demographic history. The material presented here has been gathered, to a large extent, from interview narratives and genealogies collected to represent demographically relevant census data. The ensuing discussion revolves around three key inquiries: When and why did fertility increase in these regions? What constitutes a youth bulge in this context? What are the mortality patterns in these regions?

    During the Soviet period, fertility rates rose almost without interruption, while since...

  9. Chapter 2 ‘Why Didn’t You Take a Side?’: The Emergence of Youth Categories, Institutions and Groups
    (pp. 66-102)

    Tajikistan is the result of various political processes that occurred early in the twentieth century. Its borders, as they exist today, resulted from the remapping of Central Asia by Stalin in the 1920s. As has been described by many authors, the process of categorizing the population on the basis of certain ethnic identities ultimately turned into quite a difficult undertaking, which eventually led to the creation of territorially based nation-states that were intended to host the majority of the titular population.¹ It is in this way that Tajikistan came into being. Tajikistan – one of the poorest countries in the Union...

  10. Chapter 3 ‘Siblings Are as Different as the Five Fingers of a Hand’: The Developmental Cycle of Domestic Groups and Siblingship
    (pp. 103-133)

    Before discussing whether the domestication of youth can be seen as a conflict over the status of young people, let us consider two institutions that structure the process of domestication within the community and family: first, the developmental cycle of domestic groups, and second, siblingship. The picture presented in this chapter is rather static, not because traditions have been unchanging but because here the focus is on how people construct their community through rules. In order to understand the dynamic changes that have taken place – to which we will turn in the following chapter – it is necessary to explore these...

  11. Chapter 4 ‘The Gift of Youth’: Workers, Religious Actors and Migrants
    (pp. 134-164)

    The terms and constructions that refer to ‘youth’ are far from standardized, not easily agreed upon, and vary according to intention and situation. Different aspects, concepts and points of view can be emphasized or downplayed, depending on whether one wants to portray a more or less homogeneous social group or provide a more complex situation. It is this susceptibility to various constructions that makes the term ‘youth’ so interesting and popular in approaches to conflicts. But it is the concept’s inherent imprecision that causes confusion over terms in theoretical debates on youth bulges – for example, the discussions of youth bulges...

  12. Chapter 5 ‘The Only Thing in Life that Makes You Feel Like a King’: Marriage as an Indicator of Social and Demographic Change
    (pp. 165-201)

    Marriage has often been constructed by anthropologists as the primary ritual marking the transition from childhood or youth to adulthood, especially in the absence of other youth-specific rituals such as those observed in age-system societies. In this chapter I will discuss the transition frombacha*tomardak*through marriage, which also represents a change in status from unmarried man to married man. The marriage ritual is essential in the sense that it regulates reproductive responsibilities. Moreover, while this ritual aptly demonstrates ideas of domestication by communities, the case of the Tajik civil war shows how these domestication attempts have been...

  13. Chapter 6 ‘Youth Are Our Future’: Categories, Groups and the State
    (pp. 202-223)

    A central feature of discussions of youth bulges is how young people are viewed by the state. Rather than pursuing a political analysis, I will present concrete examples to demonstrate how the state¹ constructs ‘youth’ in a specific way and how young people deal with these ascriptions (internalize, challenge, reject, negotiate). I intend to argue that a domestication of youth through conceptualizations and classifications must be preceded by an understanding of how young people are categorized and which values they are accorded by the state. The state’s constructions of youth reflect its interest in youth – in terms of both the...

  14. Conclusion: The Dynamics of Youth Bulges as a Question of Domestication
    (pp. 224-233)

    I opened this book with two examples: one showing youth participation in protest and the other youth participation in mass events (religious events). Both appear unrelated but in fact highlight two of the main preconditions necessary for the participation of youth in violent conflicts. On the one hand, we find vanguard groups who protest against the current order and claim to represent a larger category (youth, an ethnic group, the whole population and so on); on the other hand, we have young people who engage in mass activities (in this case, religious gatherings) only if these activities make sense to...

  15. Appendix
    (pp. 234-236)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 237-240)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-264)
  18. Index
    (pp. 265-271)