Understanding Adolescence in African Contexts

Introduction:

This series of podcasts explore the question of adolescence in African contexts. They are part of the ongoing work of the 5-year, UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund Hub, Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents, hosted by the University of Oxford and the University of Cape Town. The podcasts were recorded during a three-day workshop in November 2019 on the theme of Understanding Adolescence in African Contexts, hosted at Rhodes House in Oxford. These podcasts are part of the innovation strand of the Hub’s work, which will co-ordinate further workshops over the coming years, seeking to challenge and extend the ideas that underpin research on adolescence in Africa.


Podcast 1 – Violence and Adolescence

This podcast explores the impact of violence in the lives of young people, both in African contexts and beyond. The particular kinds of violence that adolescents are subject to have long-lasting and widely varying effects across time and space. Sharing personal stories, the participants reflect on the multiple forms and scales of violence that adolescents experience as they move from childhood to adulthood. They explore how inter-generational, intimate and public forms of violence inter-relate, and how might we struggle for spaces of peace for young people in African contexts and beyond.

The participants:

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literatures in English at the University of Oxford, and a prize-winning novelist and short-story writer.

Diana Walters is a lay chaplain and international heritage consultant, who has worked on establishing peace museums across East Africa.

Patricia Daley is Professor of the Human Geography of Africa at the University of Oxford.

Heidi Stöckl is an Associate Professor at the Social and Mathematical Epidemiology Group and the Director of the Gender Violence and Health Centre in the Department of Global Health and Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


Podcast 2 – Adolescence and Care

This podcast addresses the role of care in adolescence in African contexts. The conversation explores how context changes the very spaces and times of what adolescence is, when it starts and ends, how it is experienced and how it is categorized. Reflecting on the role of friendship, family formations and environmental conditions, the participants think through how interventions in adolescent lives relate to complex conditions of context. They discuss how different dimensions of care – whether in the home, institution or wider society – effect adolescence, and on the interweavings of care that take place before, during and after adolescence.

The participants:

Chris Desmond is a Director of the Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents Hub

Olayinka Omigbodun is the first Nigerian female professor of psychiatry. She is Professor at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Cindi Katz is professor of Environmental Psychology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, American Studies, and Women's Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Centre.

Lucie Cluver is Principal Investigator on the Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents Hub.


Podcast 3 – Performance and Adolescence

This podcast explores the relationship between performance and selfhood in adolescent lives. Roaming from methodologies of writing and photography through questions of gender, social media and performativity, the participants share their experiences about the importance of story-telling and expression to adolescents in Africa and beyond. They reflect together on how image-making, performance, writing, film, dance and other forms of creative practice are both crucial to adolescent identity and highly productive methods for researching adolescence. Ultimately, the participants agree, any research on adolescence, and any intervention into their lives must begin in equal partnership adolescents themselves.

The participants:

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literatures in English at the University of Oxford, and a prize-winning novelist and short-story writer.

Alude Mahali is a post-doctoral fellow/research specialist in the Human and Social Development (HSD) programme.

Alexandra Georgakopoulou is Professor of Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics at King’s College London

Kopano Ratele is a Professor in the Institute of Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) at the University of South Africa (UNISA).


Podcast 4: Adolescence, narrative and storytelling

This podcast hosts a discussion reflecting on the meeting points between narrative and adolescence. It seeks to flesh out how stories are used by adolescents, and told about adolescents, and what differences this makes to their lives. The participants debate the ethics of storytelling, the relationship between stories and empathy, and what makes people able to tell stories about themselves in the first place. As forms and nexuses of power, stories have a deep hold not only on how adolescents understand themselves, but how others understand adolescents. How might the power of stories, then, be harnessed to improve the lives of Africa’s adolescents?

The participants:

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literatures in English at the University of Oxford, and a prize-winning novelist and short-story writer.

Oluwafemi Oyebode is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham.

Caroline Adjimi is a doctoral researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Hermann Wittenberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of English where he teaches courses in Ecocritical Writing, South African Literature and Digital Culture.