Muslim Youth and the Claim of Youthfulness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Muslim societies, youth politics has espoused two contradictory sentiments: youth as a source of fear and hope. On the one hand, youths are seen as the foot soldiers of radical Islamism and violent politics, and on the other, as agents of democratic change and an open society. Through a comparative analysis of youth cultural politics in the Middle East -notably Iran, Egypt, and, somewhat, Saudi Arabia-this chapter first argues that political imaginations about the young-whether as radical Islamists or democratic reformers- are misconstrued. Second, by conceptually distinguishing between "young people" (as an age category) and "youth" (as a social category), this chapter postulates that "youth movements" are not necessarily about political change, but are essentially about "claiming youthfulness." The political efficacy of youth movements depends to a large extent on the capacity of the adversaries-the political and moral authority-to accommodate the claims of youthfulness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeing Young and Muslim
Subtitle of host publicationNew Cultural Politics in the Global South and North
EditorsLinda Herrera, Asef Bayat
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199871179
ISBN (Print)9780195369212
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Islamism
  • Middle east
  • Young people
  • Youth movements
  • Youthfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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