This panel interrogates the emotional work imposed by the new forms of citizenship that characterise African politics since 2011. We aim to explore the affective connections at play in the formation of political subjectivities where optimism and hopelessness seem so close to each other.
Since 2011, various popular movements have reshaped the practices and meanings of citizenship in Africa from the bottom up. These new citizens' initiatives entered national debates through objects ranging from electoral mobilization ("Y'en a Marre" in Senegal), to constitutional change ("Balai Citoyen" in Burkina Faso), to public education ("FeesMustFall" in South Africa) or to the legitimation of civil society ("15+2" in Angola) but all have become symbols of a broader renewal in African politics. The literature has emphasized the growing mobilization of urban youth, the use of social media and the politicisation of popular culture (especially through hip hop). Less has been said about the emotional work imposed by these forms of politics that seem to grow simultaneously on both hope and suffering. Our panel zooms onto the intrapersonal and interpersonal affective capacities at play in the formation of these new political subjectivities. How do activists navigate a complex map of emotions where fear and frustrations respond to feelings of empowerment and tangible change? If emotions are often said to be key in triggering political action, how do they sediment on the longer term? What is the afterlife of the affective connections born during the mobilization? How do we engage the emotional memory of a political mo(ve)ment? The panel welcomes ethnographic explorations of the affects and emotions that sustain or undermine mobilization during and beyond moments of political climax. We also invite reflections about the methods we can use to include affects and emotions in our understanding of political subjectivities.