Since the mid-2000s, one can observe an "international economy of protest" (Roth 2012: 23), serving to create new forms of politics. Particularly in the societies of the global South, youth movements are the main protagonists of these new protest movements, which often make reference to the economic and political developments of recent years, yet do not necessarily formulate any specific demands, but rather spontaneously create rips in the façade of societal order which display the plurality of civil society actors - for example through such means as the occupation and “redefinition” of public spaces. These new forms of protest have been particularly effective because of the rapidly growing availability of new media, which enables new forms of (also global) networking and concerted, collective short-term actions. In some countries of the global South, organized youth movements refer to political and pietistic forms of Islam in order to rebel against existing orders. These strongly politically-orientated forms in particular give such youth movements legitimacy and provide alternative possibilities for action.
As demonstrated by the uprisings in some Arabic countries in recent years, the consequences of such movements for the established social orders and political cultures of the respective countries can hardly be reduced to a simple formula. This is also the case as research and analysis into the transformations driven by the protest movements is ongoing and still somewhat in its infancy.
This project is dedicated to going some way to filling this research void, as it asks how youth movements are dynamizing and contributing to the transformation of existing political cultures in two Muslim countries: Senegal and Bangladesh. In both countries - especially in the metropolises of Dhaka and Dakar - protests have become an important factor in the transformation of political culture. Both countries have a youth-dominated demographic structure that harbours the potential for completely different political dynamics than in Western European societies. In Bangladesh and Senegal, a secular pillar of statehood- strengthened by international development cooperation- has over time ensured a relatively stable relationship between political order and Islamic tradition, a relationship which is now being called into question due to increased interactions with (in some cases transnationally networked) Islamist actors and discourses. And for some time one can observe in both countries how youth movements on the one hand, pick up on elements of their respective national political cultures, yet on the other, create transnational references with their aspirations, imaginations and utopias.