Youth, Reinventive Institutions and the Moral Politics of Future-Making in Postcolonial Africa

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This article examines the biopolitical footprint of a new wave of NGO interventions which conjoin the futures of youth with that of the nation, and which thereby seek to naturalise an institutional sovereignty over moral temporalities of future-making. By inverting the political onto the personal, these unorthodox interventions challenge extant sociological constructs of development, and further affirm the salience of an ethnographic turn in NGO scholarship. To this end, I trace the quotidian coordinates of such a moral politics out of the Right to Dream Academy, Ghana, which serves as a prototype for NGO interventions concerned not solely with locating the ontological limits of self-transformation but in redeploying such limits to address Africa’s development crises. Opening up novel theoretical directions for NGO scholarship, I propose an extension of Scott’s (2010) concept of reinventive institutions, positing a sociologically-informed reframing of NGO interventions connected to interdisciplinary work on youth, morality and futurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalSociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association
Issue number1
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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