Abstract and Keywords
As popular resistance against apartheid swelled in many townships during the mid-1980s, it was the country’s youth who rose to the forefront of the struggle, engaging in both nonviolent resistance and militant confrontation with the apartheid state. Initial academic work on South African youth politics sought to document their centrality to the liberation movement and counter state-sponsored stereotypes of them as destructive and violent. Research stressed that the youth were not a monolithic “lost generation” but an incredibly diverse group, who included everyone from precocious activists to opportunist criminals. Today, the youth of South Africa’s past have once again become a key topic of academic inquiry, as many of the structural condition [stet] that led to the youth uprising of the 1980s, such as unemployment, poor-quality education, and high rates of violent crime, did not disappear with the end of apartheid and continue to inflame contemporary politics. Yet our understanding of the youth of the 1980s remains incomplete, particularly when it comes to their involvement in violence, gender, and female youth, and those who were not involved in the liberation struggle.
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