This paper explores two recent hashtag campaigns led by youth in Guinea: #DroitALIdentite and #5000cbon. Charting their common origins and divergent paths provides an entry point for reflecting on the digitalization of political agency in Guinea’s postcolonial context. Comparing the two campaigns, and how they are understood by young Guinean web-activists, complicates essentialized notions of the ‘street’ as the center of protest. Yet, rather than celebrate social media as enabling new forms of networked agency, this paper argues for a theorizing of protests as taking form across unique arrangements of policy, histories, bodies and technologies. As this paper shows, in Guinea, youth as a political category find itself uniquely positioned across increasingly digitalized assemblages of protests.
Clovis Bergère is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication. He is a visual ethnographer whose research examines the politics of youth as they are realized in relation to digital media in Guinea, West Africa. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Childhood Studies at Rutgers University-Camden, with a specialization in global youth media. His dissertation, “Digital Society and the Politics of Youth in Guinea,” explores social networking as a locus for the mediation and re-imagination of political subjectivities in Guinea. Using digital ethnography and participatory visual research, he examined the ways in which social media, youth, and politics intersect in the Guinean public sphere. His research has been supported by the African Studies Association, Rutgers Digital Studies Center, and a David K. Sengstack Fellowship for excellence in Childhood Studies. In addition to digital media, he has written and published on street corners as spaces of youth socialization in Guinea. Prior to moving to the United States in 2011, he worked for seven years as a project manager in Children’s Services in London, UK, where he was responsible for building thirty innovative playgrounds and youth centers, focused on natural play and collaborative design.
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