Brief summary of the project
Since 2018, Dr Latefa Guemar (University of East London) and Dr Jessica Northey (Coventry University) have been working together to build links between Algerian and British Universities. Since 2019, they have worked with Jijel University in Algeria, where Latefa is originally from, to set up numerous initiatives to support Algerian students with research, writing and opportunities. Together with colleagues in Jijel, they developed the Imagining the Future project and succeeded in gaining funding support from the British Academy.
The project investigates innovative ideas of young people on tackling environmental challenges. The project captures creative energy of young people to understand how they imagine their own futures in Algeria rather than risking their lives by taking unsafe routes of migration. What forms of governance are fair and sustainable? How can young people be better involved in policymaking to ensure such imagined futures and livelihoods could be possible?
This research will also prove valuable across North Africa, the Mediterranean, and beyond, with many countries facing stark new challenges around sustainability, climate change adaptation as well as considerations around the future of work.
Algeria is characterised by a very young population. Almost a third are under 15, and those under 30 represent 75% of the population. Young people suffer high levels of unemployment, with figures twice as high for women. This is a major challenge for the state and society. Young people lack social, cultural, political and economic opportunities which prevents them leaving the family household, entering adulthood themselves and developing meaningful lives. If employed, they often face precarious livelihoods, low pay and if in the informal sector, limited workers' rights. This situation is even more challenging for women and those with a disability. The problems of accessing labour markets and pursuing purposeful lives are compounded as well by significant regional and spatial inequalities across the country, driving internal migration to a densely populated, heavily polluted capital and leaving once thriving heritage rich towns without their young.
The project aims to explore how young people across different cities in Algeria now view themselves, and what they think is necessary to become citizens capable of influencing policy and politics in the country, creating meaningful livelihoods, protecting their own environments leading to a significant reduction in young people risking their lives in dangerous boats to cross the Mediterranean for better lives.
Period : The project began in February 2019 and will run till December 2021 with possibility of extension due to the impossibility of travelling to Algeria during the pandemic.
Funder: British Academy (BA) Youth Futures
- Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace, Reconciliation and Social Relations (CTPRS)
- University of East London, Centre for Migration Refugees, and Belonging ( CMRB)
- University of Jijel-Algeria- Faculty of Social and Human Sciences for Development
- Manchester University, Centre for Modern Arabic Studies
- University College Cork, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
- Northey, J, 'Leadership from a Civil Society Perspective' in Ozerdem, Akgül-Açıkmeşe and Liebenberg, (Eds) Routledge handbook of Conflict Response and Leadership in Africa, (Routledge, 2021)
- Northey, J, 'The Algerian Hirak: Citizenship, Non-Violence and the New Movement for Democracy' in Mackert, Wolf and Turner, (Eds) The Condition of Democracy Volume 3: Postcolonial and Settler Colonial Contexts (2021)
- Guemar, L, Northey, J & Hirak anniversary: Political prisoners freed as Algerians continue to protest, in Open Democracy (2021)
- Northey, J Imagining a new political space: the power of youth and peaceful protest in Algeria Revista Idees (2020)
- Northey, J & Guemar, L 'The Algerian Hirak: Youth mobilisation, elections and prospects for reform 'Orient (2020)/II
- Chiheb, A, Guemar, L, Northey, J, The Algerian Hirak: Young people and the non-violent revolution in Open Democracy (2019)
- Guemar, L, Northey, J, Algeria breaks the Wall of Fear in Open Democracy (2019)
- Submitted article to Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies:
Diaspora philanthropy and migrant activism: Algerian community responses during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Latefa Guemar, University of East London, Jessica Northey, Coventry University
We are currently collecting data, including conducting 200 interviews with youth in Algeria which should be published in including articles in Journal for North African Studies and a book with I.B.Tauris.
Together with our UK-Algerian team, we advanced our research initiative to analyse the actions of the Algerian diaspora in London, including young people, in responding to COVID. Drawing on objective 1, we investigated how impressive social solidarity of the Algerian diaspora were contributing to reflections about citizenship and identity, and how this might contribute to social transformations in the future. We conducted interviews with community organisations in the UK, student groups, charities and influencers, and gathered data about their activities, analysed this and wrote a joint paper (Guemar, Northey, Boukhrami).
The PI Dr Northey and consultant partner, Dr Latefa Guemar presented these findings at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations' Global Inequalities and Development Research Group, 22 February 2021. Read more.
We then presented it alongside Dr Elias Boukhrami at the Migrant Belongings Conference at Utrecht University
Lastly, this was also presented by Dr Latefa Guemar in our successful joint BISA panel on "Political mobilisation, youth and women’s activism and new democratic politics in the southern Mediterranean, Middle East and its Diasporas". The International Studies of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia Working Group, of which the PI is Co-convenor, sponsored this. The panel involved four papers, from the PI, co-investigator, partners and PhD students, with our partner Prof Salhi as discussant, and was held at 11am, 21 June 2021.
Leadership for Sustainability
Towards a Zero Waste Future for Algeria
10-12 September 2021
Centre for trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR), Coventry University, Centre for Migration Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) University of East London and Sustainability Leadership Kosova (SLK) in the framework of the British Academy funded Imagining the Future: Engaging young people on environmental challenges to create new and sustainable livelihoods in Algeria.
Hosted by the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth Wales.