The Politics of Development

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Media Outlet: Karger Human Development

The readiness, indeed eagerness, of young people (as well as adults) to engage their political contexts became quickly evident in this new line of research as well. The first key insight was that youth naturally engage their contexts, cognitively, and that how they cope with the risks of being exposed to or involved in violence depends importantly on how much sensibility, morality, and efficacy they find in the conflicted political dynamics that beset their people [Barber, 2009]. This process is full of identity implications, at no time more profoundly evident to me than when recently standing with millions in Cairo's Tahrir Square one week after Hosni Mubarak was deposed. One emphatic and jubilant refrain from young and old was: “Finally, we can be Egyptian again!” [Barber, 2013; Youniss, Barber, & Billen, 2013].  

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Brian K. Barber is a fellow in New America's International Security program. He is a professor of child and family studies and founding director of the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict at the University of Tennessee.