This research program ethnographically investigates the
mobilisation of youth into non-state violent, political
organisations. Through a comparative qualitative study, it examines
the motives and means that lead young people to turn to violence.
In doing so, the research programme uncovers one of the major
shadows of the current state of globalisation, namely the
radicalisation and fundamentalisation of young men into ethnic,
religious and immigrant militant organisations, granting us insight
into important sources of local and global formations of
The programme uncovers mobilisation and radicalisation processes by
analysing how organisations invite youth to participate in politics
in particular ways, and how youth seek to navigate organisations
and events in order to enhance their life-chances and secure their
well-being (Vigh 2006, and Jensen 2006). The overall aim of the
programme is to clarify the relationship between collective
violence, ideational structures and praxis, by illuminating how and
why non-state violent political organisations seek to mobilise
youth and what motives and situated rationalities youth have for
Activities and publications:
In November 2011, participants in the Vopy project organized a
panel at the American Anthropological Association in Montreal. The
panel was entitled 'Violent Potentiality'. The
presentations were followed by an interesting and lively debate
about issues of violence and mobilization.
Also in November 2011, participants of the Vopy programme organized
a mini-conference at Centre for International Policy Studies
(CIPS) in Ottawa entitled 'Youth Mobilization and the Problem of the
In 2011, researchers within the programme also participated in a
project financed by the Danish Ministry for Integration on
experiences from working with anti-radicalization projects in
Selected publications under VOPY:
Jacob Rasmussen, 2010: "Outwitting the Professor of
Politics? Mungiki narratives of Political Deception and their role
in Kenyan Politics" Journal of Eastern African Studies vol. 4 no.
Jacob Rasmussen, 2010:"Mungiki as youth movement: Revolution,
Gender and Generational Politics in Nairobi, Kenya." Young vol. 18
no. 3 pp. 301-319.
Steffen Jensen: Stunted future: buryong among young men in Manila
(forthcoming book chapter in Time Objectified, edited by
Martin Demant and Anne-Line Dalsgaard, Temple University
Maya Christensen, 2012: Big Man business in the borderland of
Sierra Leone. In: Mats Utas (ed.): African Conflicts and Informal
Power. Big Men and Networks, pp. 60-77. Zed Books.
Maya Christensen and Mats Utas: Mercenaries of Democracy: the
'politricks' of remobilized combatants in the 2007 general
elections, Sierra Leone. African Affairs, 107(429): 515-539.
Listening to Radicals: Attitudes and Motivations of Young People Engaged
in Political and Social Movements Outside of the Mainstream in
Central and Nordic Europe.
Brotherhoods, Violence and Gender in Urban
The project explores the relationship between brotherhoods,
violence and globalization in a resettlement site in Manila. It
focuses on the (violent) practices of young men, as they stake
their claim to identity and belonging in the global and national
political economy. This violence is directed outwards as they
engage in gang-like practices and internally against one another in
drives to discipline their fellow brothers and their own bodies.
These violent practices also bring the young men into conflict with
the law and expose them to retributive violence from state and
non-state authority. The project furthermore explores the gendered
and generational forms of authority in Bagong Silang and how the
brotherhood relates to authority, not least as they are being
mobilized into often violent, electoral politics - the infamous
three G's of Philippine politics - guns, goons and gold - that for
generations has seen young, marginalized men drawn into private
armies at the service of local strong men.
Scaling up torture prevention and rehabilitation work in the
Mobilising Young Combatants in the Mano River region of
In this Ph.D. project Maya Christensen investigates the
mobilisation of Sierra Leonean ex-combatants and ex-soldiers into
militarised networks and institutions in a local, regional and
global context. By exploring the interplay between combatants,
their recruiters and political interventions the project generates
insight into the cyclic processes of demobilisation and
remobilisation in a context of peace building, and into how markets
for violence emerge in parallel with attempts to establish
security. The project illuminates how combatants mobilise not only
into militia groups, but also into politics, police forces and
private military companies cross-cutting boundaries between formal
and informal domains, and between legality and illegality. In this
regard a central assumption of the project is that the weakness of
efforts to demobilise and reintegrate combatants can be traced to
the organisational forms under which combatants are mobilised; i.e.
the link between big-men networks and violent mobilisation.
Monitoring government commitment to administration of juvenile
Preventing torture and organised violence: A study of detention and
violence in Sierra Leone.
organisation of political youth.
Youth mobilization in
urban Manila: electoral politics, crime and authority in Bagong
Mungiki: Between violent youth politics and traditionalist sect -
an anthropological study of urban politics and violence in Nairobi,
Mobilisation and social navigation in student politics at Dhaka
Political Activism in the context of Nepal's democratic transition:
Mobilisation, hope and survival among youth in Kathmandu.
The violence of resettlement: Global perspectives on resettlement