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Participatory art for navigating political capabilities and aspirations among rural youth in Zimbabwe

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/12/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Third World Quarterly
Issue number12
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)2863-2882
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/09/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


While exploring the everyday experiences of Tonga youth, this paper draws on a participatory graffiti-on-board project in Binga, a rural community in Zimbabwe. Focus is placed on what shapes and drives youth aspirations in precarious contexts marked by unemployment and poverty. Using graffiti to create participatory and artistic engagements, the research aims to stretch the limited boundaries of social and political space available to the youth for discussing issues that concern their development pathways and livelihoods. The article presents everyday narratives that impact on Tonga youths’ aspirations, endeavouring to create a space where they can visualise their prospective futures. Additionally, exhibition spaces are seen as sites for the construction of a collective voice and political capabilities for the youth. We argue that aspirations among disadvantaged youth evidence the broader geopolitical conflict that exists in marginalised communities in Southern Africa. A lack of spaces to construct political voice among the youth curtails their capabilities and agency to choose from existing development opportunities in an uncertain future. We discuss the potential role of participatory art in relation to this in providing spaces for political voice, unsettling established power dynamics and developing a collective, unified voice that might influence governance processes in fragile contexts.