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CCYSC Call for Feature Essays
November, 2021- February, 2022

Read The Essay here

Protest, Politics, and Possibilities: The Being and Becoming of Youth Activism in South Asia

Youth constitutes a crucial element in the economic, political, and social development of a nation and beyond. Apart from playing a significant role in the nationalist movements, youth has been the crucial harbingers and the primary source of transformation in political attitudes and socio-cultural aspects through new cycles of protest, mobilization, political awareness, and other effective forms of activism. With changing times, South Asia, as a geopolitical unit, has witnessed massive student and youth protest and activism in both the colonial and postcolonial eras. Different regional, national, and global issues have made youth the cohorts of participatory community culture, characterized not only by the aspiration for a better future but also by the ability to experience, individually and collectively, the major social and political events. In this regard, educational institutions play a central role in forming and developing new trans-nationalist political ideas around gender-based identities, moral policies, sporadic emergence of queer collectives, the politicization of regional identities, and ethnicities within campuses (Martelli and Garalyte 2019). However, there have been youth political communities beyond these campus communities, with the potential to address and subvert various fractured social and cultural lines and emerge as autonomous youth forces (Nisbett 2007).


Student protest and youth activism have long been a prominent feature of political reform and social movement, particularly in South Asia and the globe in general. The history of the freedom struggles of countries like India, China, Japan, South Korea, and others have glittering chapters of youth movements and activism. The Young India movements (1920s), The Chinese Communist Youth Movements (1940s), The Burmese student protests (1988), the JP Movement in Bihar (1974), and protests in the 1960s and 1970s in Japan are to mention just a few of them.  In the post-independence era, different South Asian countries have witnessed several youth protests and movements beyond their party lines, often building a dialogue with the global concerns of religion, race, gender, culture, digital dimension of youthscapes, and others.


Beyond the political repercussions of such protests, this ‘romance’ of revolutionary fervor contributes to democracy, national narratives, global politics, and society. Despite the continuing visibility of youth activism, relatively little comparative or ethnographic research has explored the determinants and their ideational relationship and implication with the broader South Asian politics and democracy (Weiss and Aspinall 2012). The active participation and emergence of young artists, journalists, educators, and activists also bring new vocabularies concerning the affective, normative, and transformative group-based identifications and experiences. Hence, protest as a mode or method brings into the picture various conceptual aspects of performativity, situated actions, cognitive schemes, processual mechanisms, ideological cross-fertilizations, and ‘non-political’ dimensions of youth participation. It becomes a transformative event, a modality of youth self-fashioning, and a political becoming at different identifiable socio-cultural locations forged by historical events, generational experience, and situational concerns.


Therefore, this call for essays proposes engaging with various ‘movements of expression’ (Rosanvallon 2006) of South Asian youth through the different epoch of history, performance, narrativization, and other intersections. It aims to reimagine youth activism in the South Asian scenario to reinvigorate debate within this multidisciplinary field through archival and ethnographic insights into the various dynamics of youth activism.  Situating youth as cohorts, the series also aims at understanding the political consciousness of South Asian youth and looks for how South Asian youths are crafting an alternative political discourse. What characteristic desires do they reflect both individually and collectively? How do campuses and virtual spaces get occupied and bring formations to the collective socio-political actions? It is not to engage with the youth as the turbulent, disoriented, non-ideological adults but to look for those potentials of South Asian youth that strengthen distinctive socio-political identifications and sustain the transformative group-based participatory activism.


Considering South Asian youth as the locus of contestation, this call for feature essays welcomes contributions on diverse intersections of this theme: visual feature and long-form essays. All submissions must be well researched, referenced, and data verified. The word limit is between 2500-3500. The use of photos, visual aids, audio snippets, and other creative additions are also encouraged in these feature essays. Any queries and final submissions must be sent to

We look forward to reading your work!


Keywords: Youth, Activism, South Asia, Community


Aligning thrust areas welcomed for this call for essays include (but are not restricted to):

  • Academic/Educational engagement and youth activism

  • Parental upbringing, generational issues, and youth activism.

  • Space, performance, and youth activism.

  • Electoral politics and South Asian youth

  • Youth movement and Caste/Class struggle

  • Digital dimension to youth activism.

  • The future of youth activism in South Asia.



Martelli, Jean-Thomas and Kristina Garalytė. “Generational Communities: Student Activism and the Politics of Becoming in South Asia.” The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ), vol. 22, 2019, pp. 1-40.

Nisbett, Nicholas. “Friendship, Consumption, Morality: Practicing Identity, Negotiating Hierarchy in Middle-Class Bangalore.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol.13, no. 4, 2007, pp. 935–50.

Rosanvallon, Pierre. Democracy Past and Future. Edited by Samuel Moyn, Columbia University Press, 2006.


Weiss, Meredith., and Edward Aspinall. Editors. Student Activism in Asia: Between Protest and Powerlessness. University of Minnesota Press, 2012.


Feature-Essay Editor/Intern- Subhankar Dutta



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