The Violent Organisation of Political Youth

The programme is co-financed by The Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) .

Contact person: Professor MSO Henrik Vigh

This research program ethnographically investigates the mobilisation of youth into non-state violent, political organisations. Through a comparative qualitative study, it examines the motives and means that lead young people to turn to violence. In doing so, the research programme uncovers one of the major shadows of the current state of globalisation, namely the radicalisation and fundamentalisation of young men into ethnic, religious and immigrant militant organisations, granting us insight into important sources of local and global formations of violence.

The programme uncovers mobilisation and radicalisation processes by analysing how organisations invite youth to participate in politics in particular ways, and how youth seek to navigate organisations and events in order to enhance their life-chances and secure their well-being (Vigh 2006, and Jensen 2006). The overall aim of the programme is to clarify the relationship between collective violence, ideational structures and praxis, by illuminating:

  1. how and why non-state violent political organisations seek to mobilise youth and 
  2. what motives and situated rationalities youth have for mobilising.

This constitutes a dynamic dialectic relationship and we will examine such processes with an eye to both violent agency and structure, i.e., to both agent’s and organisation’s motives for turning to violence.

The program consists of two senior (Steffen Jensen, Senior Researcher at RCT and Henrik Vigh, Dept. of Anthropology) and three PhD researchers undertaking five case studies focussed on the mobilisation and radicalisation of youth in Lisbon, South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Antropological PhD project by Dan Hirslund:

Political Activism in the Context of Nepal's Democratic Transtion: Mobilisation, Hope and Survival Amongh Youth in Kathmandu.